Basketball Blog

1944-45: Hoover Rules Southern California Basketball

Rick : January 25, 2017 2:08 pm : Basketball

 It’s a footnote in area history that has almost been lost in the mists of time.

San Diego’s rare basketball parlay.

The Hoover Cardinals were champions of Southern California and center Dick Barnes was player of the year. One had been accomplished, but not two, and not in the same season.

Barnes, a 6-foot, 5-inch center, and his teammates won the third annual Beverly Hills Invitational, the premier prep hoops event in Southern California during World War II.

It wasn’t the Southern Section playoffs, on hiatus in 1944 and ’45, but probably was better.

Barnes (57) averaged 16 points a game for championship Cardinals squad.

Sixteen of the best teams in the Southland were included in a killer bracket in which the winner would have to play four games in two days at Beverly Hills High.


Hoover opened at 4:15 p.m. on Friday, February 24, 1945, against Bay League power Santa Monica.

Barnes stunned the Vikings with 36 points as the Cardinals eased to a 54-44 victory.

With a couple hours to relax and maybe get a bite to eat, coach Rickey Wilson and players watched Santa Barbara score a 45-27 victory over Redondo Beach Redondo, the Southern Section champion in 1942-43.

Hoover took on Santa Barbara at 9:15 that night.  Barnes scored 12 points and the Redbirds won again, 46-36.

The Cardinals were back at it at 2 the next afternoon and Barnes, virtually unstoppable around the basket from his pivot position, scored 18 points in a 46-44, overtime triumph against South Pasadena.

No time for a sit-down, Saturday evening dinner.

The boys tipped off again versus Whittier in the championship game at 7 p.m.

Barnes led the way with 21 points for a four-game total of 87 and Hoover earned a 47-36, title-clinching win.

All in a day’s work, or about 30 hours.

Ten days later the Helms Athletic Foundation not surprisingly announced that Barnes was the Southern California player of the year.

Barnes was the only major division player to capture the individual honor during San Diego’s Southern Section association, which ended in 1960.

Coed Vivian Denniston liked Barnes’ moves, on the court.

San Diego, in 1935-36, was the only team other than the Cardinals to win the major championship.

Hoover also had won the first Beverly Hills tournament in 1943.

Head coach Rickey Wilson stuck around for one more season and then began a long career as the head coach at Amherst College in Massachusetts.


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2016-17 Week 5: Movement at the Top

Rick : January 24, 2017 4:36 pm : Basketball

Idleness apparently breeds contempt among voters in the weekly Union-Tribune poll.

St. Augustine, tied for first with Foothills Christian last week, played one game and defeated Lincoln, 68-62.

Foothills played two, winning 84-45 over West Hills and defeating Coastal League rival Santa Fe Christian, 68-61.

Two Knights victories over the Saints’ one  apparently was enough for one voter, who broke the seasonal tie for first between Foothills and the Saints.

Foothills, with 6 first-place votes to St. Augustine’s 4,  this week is the No. 1 team in the San Diego Section.

The teams’ position in the weekly Cal-Hi Sports‘ top 20 didn’t change, Foothills remaining seven in the state and the Saints’ 11th.  Torrey Pines is on the bubble.

Foothills should get a passable test Saturday in the “Greatest Show on Earth”  Shootout against Woodland Hills Taft at Los Angeles Cathedral.

Other San Diego voting saw Mission Hills jump from seventh to fourth,  Vista drop from fourth to sixth, Mater Dei climb from 10th to seventh, and La Jolla fall from sixth to ninth.

A 62-60 victory over No. 4 Chatsworth Sierra Canyon moved Mission Hills (18-2) from eighth to fifth in the girls’ Top 20.  A 65-52 win over Capistrano JSerra helped The Bishop’s (20-1)  remain 20th.  La Jolla Country Day (10-10) is on the bubble.

Union-Tribune boys’ poll through Tuesday, Jan. 17:

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
1 Foothills Christian (6) 16-2 95 1T
2 St. Augustine (4) 17-3 94 1T
3 Torrey Pines 15-3 80 3
4 Mission Hills 14-5 59 7
5 Helix 16-5 49 5
6 Vista 17-3 46 4
7 Mater Dei 15-4 28 10
8 La Jolla Country Day 14-7 26 9
9 La Jolla 14-3 19 6
10 Poway 16-4 10 NR

NR–Not rated.

Others receiving votes: Orange Glen (13-5, 8 points), Serra (18-3, 8), Coronado (21-2, 5), Mission Bay (15-6, 5), Canyon Crest (14-5, 4), Olympian (18-2, 2), Rancho Bernardo (14-4, 2), Valhalla (17-4, 1).

Poll participants include John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan,  Bill Dickens, Adam Paul,; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith,; Bodie DeSilva,; Chris Davis, freelance;  Aaron Burgin,

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2016-17 Week 4: Littleton Sets Record, Gets Big Mac Invite

Rick : January 16, 2017 3:29 pm : Basketball

The Bishop’s Destiny Littleton sailed past Charde Houston to set the girls’ career scoring record in California and the status quo remained on the boys’ front in San Diego Section basketball last week.

Equally significant news was off the court.

Littleton was named to play in the 16th annual McDonald’s All-America game in Chicago on March 29,  while Foothills Christian’s Jaylen Hands  and Brandon McCoy of Cathedral were selected to play in the 40th annual  McDonald’s boys’ game.

Littleton scored 30 points in a 72-47 victory over Ramona to break Houston’s record of 3,837.  At that point, with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, the game was stopped.

Littleton’s point total stood at 3,838.

Houston  was in attendance, congratulated Littleton, and presented her a bouquet of flowers at midcourt, according to Mark Tennis of Cal-Hi Sports.

The Bishop’s coach Marlon Wells, who also mentored Houston at San Diego High from 2001-04, then pulled Little and sat her for the rest of the game, reported Tennis.

It was a classy move by Wells and classy of Houston to be there, part of a Martin Luther King event at Mount Miguel.

Charde Houston (left) was a gracious former recordholder when The Bishop’s Destiny Littleton set state career scoring record. Photo by Marlon Wells.



Littleton was preceded in the girls’ McDonald’s event by Houston and La Jolla Country Day’s Candice Wiggins in 2004, Day’s Kelsey Plum (2013), and Horizon’s DiJonai Carrington (2016).

Wiggins is eighth in career scoring in California with 3,252 points.  Terri Mann of Point Loma (1987)  is ninth with 3,188,  according to Cal-Hi Sports.

Jelani McCoy of St. Augustine (1994) and Chase Budinger of La Costa Canyon (2006) are the only previous McDonald’s boys invitees from the area.

Foothills Christian improved from eighth to seventh and St.  Augustine from 15th to 11th in the weekly Cal-Hi  boys’ top 20.  Torrey Pines and Vista are on the bubble.

The Union-Tribune boys poll remained static in  the top three positions, Foothills and St. Augustine tied for No. 1, followed by Torrey Pines and Vista.  Helix moved to No. 5.

Union-Tribune  poll through Tuesday, Jan. 17:

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
1 Foothills Christian (5) 14-2 95 1T
2 St. Augustine (5) 16-3 95 1T
3 Torrey Pines 15-3 80 3
4 Vista 17-2 68 4
5 Helix 14-5 43 6
6 La Jolla 13-2 35 9
7 Mission Hills 12-5 32 NR
8 Serra 17-1 28 5
9 La Jolla Country Day 11-7 26 7
10 Mater Dei 12-4 18 NR

NR–Not rated.

Others receiving votes: La Costa Canyon (14-4, 14 points), Poway (14-4, 7), Canyon Crest (13-4, 2),  Coronado (19-2, 2), Santa Fe Christian (10-5, 1).

Poll participants include John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan,  Bill Dickens, Adam Paul,; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith,; Bodie DeSilva,; Chris Davis, freelance;  Aaron Burgin,

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2016-17 Week 3: All Quiet on Top

Rick : January 9, 2017 12:57 pm : Basketball

The first three teams in the Union-Tribune Top 10 are easy.

Between the numerous “Shootouts”, “Classics”, “Showcases”, and “Invitationals” which jot the basketball map at this point in the season, getting a handle on Foothills Christian, St. Augustine, and Torrey Pines, numbers 1, 2, and 3, respectively, is piece of cake.

Those teams annually play intersectional schedules and test their wares against the best of the best in the state.

It’s the others that are hard to read.

Serra is 16-0 and Vista 13-2, but they play largely local schedules or in one of the second-tier “classics.”  Same with Helix (13-5), La Jolla (11-2), and Santa Fe Christian (10-4).

A better idea of those clubs’ profile will come only in the playoffs.  For now, it’s about getting deeper into league play and, for a few, this weekend’s Martin Luther King games.

Foothills rose from 11th to eighth in the weekly Cal-Hi Sports top 20.  St. Augustine elevated one position to 15th. Torrey Pines and Vista are on the bubble.

Mission Hills (13-1) dropped to 11th from sixth in Cal-Hi‘s girls’ top 20 and The Bishop’s (15-1) remained 20th. La Jolla Country Day (9-6) is on the bubble.

Mission Hills’ only loss was 65-62 in overtime to San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral in December.  The Bishop’s dropped a 73-68, overtime decision to Eastlake but rebounded last week to beat the Titans, 70-65.

The Knights’ Destiny Littleton remains on fire, averaging 51.7 points a game and closing in on the state career scoring record of 3,837 set in 2003-04 by San Diego’s Charde Houston.

Boby’ records through Monday, Jan. 7:

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
1 Foothills Christian (5) 13-2 95 1T
2 St. Augustine (5) 11-3 95 1T
3 Torrey Pines 12-3 80 3
4 Vista 13-2 66 4
5 Serra 16-0 54 7
6 Helix 13-5 33 9
7 La Jolla Country Day 10-7 23 5
8 Cathedral 6-8 20 8
9 La Jolla 11-2 15 6
10 Santa Fe Christian 10-4 14 10

Others receiving votes: Mission Hills (9-5, 12 points), Mater Dei (11-4, 10), Poway (13-4, 10), Rancho Bernardo (12-3, 7), La Costa Canyon (13-4, 6), Canyon Crest (11-2, 3),  Coronado (17-2, 2), Patrick Henry (12-5, 1),  Kearny (6-6, 1).

Poll participants include John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan,  Bill Dickens, Adam Paul,; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith,; Bodie DeSilva,; Chris Davis, freelance;  Aaron Burgin,

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2016-17 Week 2: Knights, Saints Share Top

Rick : January 2, 2017 6:03 pm : Basketball

Foothills Christian, St. Augustine, and Torrey Pines, we know about.  All three played before overflow crowds of more than 3,000 persons in the Under-Armour tournament at Torrey Pines over the Christmas holiday.

What about the Vista?

The Panthers are fourth in the weekly San Diego Union-
Tribune poll but they’ve managed to stay under the radar while building a 13-2 record.

A  sighting last week in the Silver Division of the La Verne Damian tournament shed some light.

the Panthers defeated  Woodland Hills Taft, 60-52, for the championship and beat an 11-2 club that annually is among the  best teams in the Los Angeles City Section.

Meanwhile, Foothills Christian, led by the explosive Jaylen Hands, won the Under-Armour National Division by defeating St. John’s of Washington, D.C., 61-57, and is tied for first in the local poll with St. Augustine.

I voted for the Saints No. 1, based on their 85-75 victory over Foothills in the Under-Armour preview but can’t argue with the first-place tie.  The Saints flattened out, losing 2 of their last 3 games in the tournament.

Foothills rose from 11th to eighth in the weekly Cal-Hi Sports top 20.  St. Augustine went to 16th from unranked.  Torrey Pines and Vista are on the bubble.

Records through Monday, Jan. 2:

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
1 Foothills Christian (5) 12-2 95 1
2 St. Augustine (5) 11-3 95 2
3 Torrey Pines 12-3 80 5
4 Vista 13-2 62 5
5 La Jolla Country Day 9-6 59 4
6 La Jolla 10-1 33 9
7 Serra 14-0 28 NR
8 Cathedral 4-7 27 7
9 Helix 10-4 13 6
10 Santa Fe Christian 10-4 12 NR

NR–Not ranked.

Others receiving votes: Orange Glen (7-2, 10 points), La Costa Canyon (11-3, 10), Poway (10-4, 10), Rancho Bernardo (8-2, 9), Mater Dei (7-4, 4), Patrick Henry (11-3, 1),  Coronado (15-2, 1).

Poll participants include John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan,  Union-Tribune correspondent; im Lindgren Union-Tribune correspondent, Bill Dickens, Adam Paul,; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith,; Bodie DeSilva,; Chris Davis, freelance;  Aaron Burgin,

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2016-17 Week 1: Foothills Christian Leads Again

Rick : December 23, 2016 4:13 pm : Basketball

Coach Brad Leaf’s Foothills Christian squad picked up where it left off, first in the first San Diego Union-Tribune basketball poll,  which the Knights dominated in 2015-16.

The El Cajon club is 6-1, with only a 90-73 loss to defending national champion Chino Hills after leading the Huskies, 42-38, at halftime.

What’s up with Cathedral?  Picked as high as fifth in the state in some preseason polls and with 7-foot Brandon McCoy leading the Dons, Cathedral has slumped to 3-5.

Coronado got one vote among teams outside the top 10, but raise one for the Islanders, who are 15-2 and played 17 games since Nov. 28.

Records through Wednesday, Dec. 21:

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
1 Foothills Christian (10) 6-1 100 1
2 St. Augustine 5-1 82 2
3 Torrey Pines 7-1 76 5
4 La Jolla Country Day 8-2 71 4
5 Vista 8-2 48 8
6 Helix 7-2 43 7
7 Cathedral 3-5 42 3
8 Poway 8-2 28 10
9 La Jolla 8-1 17 NR
10 La Costa Canyon 8-2 14 NR

Others receiving votes, including record: Santa Fe Christian (6-3, 5 points), Mission Hills (4-4, 5) Patrick Henry (9-0, 5), Serra (8-0, 4), Mira Mesa (5-3, 4), Kearny (3-3, 2), Coronado (5-2, 1).

Eleven media representatives vote, including John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan, Jim Lindgren, Union-Tribune correspondents; Bill Dickens, Adam Paul,; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith,; Bodie DeSilva,; Lisa Lane, San Diego Preps Insider; Aaron Burgin,

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2016: Week 14: Top Rated Teams Meet in Finals

Rick : November 30, 2016 1:42 pm : Basketball, Football

The CIF power ratings are holding up fairly well as the final round of San Diego Section play takes place Friday and Saturday at Southwestern College.

The two highest power rated clubs will meet in the Open Division and in D-1 and D-3.

Winning teams will progress to a variety of divisions in a Southern California round of 4, with the ultimate winners meeting teams from Northern California in the state championship.


No. 1 Cathedral (12-0) versus No. 2 Helix (10-2) Saturday at 7 p.m.

Cathedral overcame a 21-7, Helix halftime lead to defeat the Highlanders, 35-28, in Week 4.

Helix eliminated the Dons in the semifinals in 2014 and 2015.

Cathedral is making its eighth championship appearance since  2006 and Helix its 11th since 1999.

Are the Dons as good as the Tyler Gaffney-led squad that was 14-0 and the state D-III champion in 2008?

As we see it:  Cathedral 34, Helix 21.


No. 2 St. Augustine (10-2)  versus No. 1 and 10-2 Madison Friday at 7 p.m. more »

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2016: Roger Lively, 77, One of Sweetwater’s Best

Rick : September 28, 2016 10:08 am : Basketball, Other

The first athlete inducted into the Sweetwater High Hall of Fame, Roger Lively was a standout in the major sports and a steady, vital presence in a remarkable run by the Red Devils in the 1956-57 basketball season.

The 6-foot, 3-inch Lively, who passed at age 77 earlier this month, played center for coach Wells Gorman’s team, which had a 1-7 record when Metropolitan League play began in January.

The Red Devils caught fire, after dropping a 45-44 decision to Coronado in the leagueopening game.

They tied for the league championship with Helix, each with a 7-1 record, Sweetwater claiming its share after a rejecting a Grossmont strategy that took the air out of the ball in the final regular-season game.

The Foothillers did not take a shot from the field until 4 minutes had elapsed and Sweetwater did not score in the game’s first 10 minutes.

Sweetwater, trailing, 3-0, after one quarter and 6-5 at the half, finally put the game away, 23-19, and won a coin flip to enter the playoffs as the Metro’s No. 1 entry.

The Red Devils’ reward was a game at San Diego High against the 16-9 Cavemen, whose frontline of Artist Gilbert, Edward Lee Johnson, and Dick (Bunky) Wiseman made San Diego a decided favorite against this Johnny-come-lately squad from National City.


Junior Bobby Jordan scored 22 points, Bob Beardsley had 14, and Lively added 12 and Sweetwater stunned the Cavers, 57-47.

Next up in the second round was another favored squad, Newport Beach Newport Harbor, with three starters back from a 1955-56 postseason entry.

Sweetwater edged the Sailors, 49-45, as Lively led his team with 14 points and converted 10 of 12 free throws.

Sweetwater then moved into the quarterfinals of the 25-team event and took on No. 1 seed Los Angeles Mt. Carmel, which boasted a 28-1 record, and 6-foot, 7-inch Alvin Claiborne, one of the top players in Southern California.

Lively and the Red Devils battled their taller rivals to a standstill, trailing only 34-33 entering the fourth quarter as the crowd at Point Loma high sensed another upset.

Lively, operating strongly against the taller Claiborne, was 7 for 7 from the free throw line and scored 11 points to Claiborne’s 12.

Sweetwater lagged only 44-41 with three minutes remaining before foul trouble and Mt. Carmel free throws pushed the Crusaders to a 49-41 triumph.

Sweetwater finished the season with a 10-10 record.  Mt. Carmel, beaten in the finals by El Monte, was 30-2.



2015-16: Foothills 3rd, Cathedral 14th

Rick : April 3, 2016 6:10 am : Basketball

There were no state championships, but it was a solid season in San Diego Section  basketball.

Foothills Christian, behind McDonald’s all-star T.J. Leaf, was third in the state in Cal-Hi Sports‘ final boys Top 40 rankings.

Cathedral ranked 14th and St. Augustine 23rd.

The 2015-16 finish showed marked improvement  over the 2014-15 Cal-Hi rankings, in which St. Augustine was 23rd, Torrey Pines 24th, and Foothills Christian 36th.

Foothills gained  currency when it defeated Santa Ana Mater Dei, 50-44, in the Southern California quarterfinals before bowing to Chino Hills, 82-62.

Chino Hills (35-0) won the state championship and is national champion, according to all major polls.

Foothills lost its first game to the San Bernardino County squad in December, 106-86, but came closer than any California school when it dropped an 85-83 decision to the Huskies in January.

A basket by Leaf had put the Knights ahead, 83-82, with 13.3 seconds remaining.

3 IN TOP 20

Mission Hills was seventh in the girls, followed by La Jolla Country Day at No. 10 and Bishop at No. 19.

La Jolla Country Day was 15th and Mission Hills 30th in the final 2014-15 rankings.

The last state champions were in St. Augustine boys and Horizon girls in 2013-14.


A highlight of next season is expected to be The Bishop’s Destiny Littleton’s pursuit of the state career scoring record.

Littleton averaged 35.7 and scored 1,178 points this season, giving her a three-season total of 2,934.  San Diego’s Charde Houston set the California record with 3,837 from 2000 to 2004.


Cathedral rose as high as 10th in the Cal-Hi poll after an 82-80, overtime win against Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, but fell following a 72-56, semifinals loss to Torrance Bishop Montgomery…St. Augustine was 17th before dropping a 68-55,  semifinals game at Encino Crespi…Charde Houston played four seasons at Connecticut and is in her ninth WNBA season as a member of the New York Mercury…despite the CIF’s desired “competitive equity,” the Southern Section dominated the  regionals…the San Diego, Los Angeles, and Central  came up short, as all 12 boys and girls division winners were from the Southern Section….

How Cal-Hi Sports viewed San Diego Section squads:


Top 40 Foothills Christian 25-5 3
Cathedral 21-7 14
St. Augustine 24-8 23
Torrey Pines 26-5 37
I St. Augustine 8
Torrey Pines 15
II Mission Bay 21-9 17
Army-Navy 21-11 19
III Kearny 31-4 9
IV El Camino 29-7 4
*Grossmont 23-8
*San Marcos 22-8
V Bonita Vista 21-13 12
*Mission Vista 16-13


Top 20 Mission Hills 29-4 7
La Jolla Country Day 24-6 10
The Bishop’s 25-8 19
I The Bishop’s 6
Torrey Pines 22-9 15
II Mount Miguel 21-12 17
III Eastlake 26-7 13
*Horizon 19-13
IV *La Costa Canyon 23-10
V Grossmont 25-6 13
*Escondido Adventist 23-5

*Honorable Mention.

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1970-2016: Walton or Leaf, Take Your Pick

Rick : March 17, 2016 3:51 pm : Basketball

Bill Walton was 33-0 in his senior season at Helix.  T.J. Leaf was 25-5 at Foothills Christian.

Walton’s Helix team dominated the San Diego Section, but the Highlanders’ 70-56 victory over Chula Vista in the AA finals in 1970 marked the end of season. Southern California playoffs were reserved only for Southern Section squads.

Leaf’s Foothills Christian team, benefiting from the modern CIF, competed beyond the San Diego Section playoffs, most recently reaching the Southern California regional semifinals.

Walton was a 6-foot, 11-inch center who played with his back to the basket, and scored and played defense with equal abandon.

Leaf is a 6-10 power forward with a wider range of offense but did not command defense as did Walton.

If pro basketball is the correct measuring stick, basketball has evolved and improved to a point in the San Diego area that we now can claim many NBA or international players.

Before Walton you could count the number of NBA players from San Diego on one hand plus two or three fingers.

Leaf put Foothills Christian on national radar.

Leaf put Foothills Christian on national radar.

Leaf is moving on to UCLA, where Walton won two national collegiate championships and NBA titles with the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics.

Leaf is a longshot to match Walton’s  post-high school achievements but that will not diminish the mark he made at Foothills Christian.  T.J. finished his career second to his brother, Troy, as the San Diego’s Section’s career scoring leader.

Leaf was at the wheel as the small El Cajon school traveled with the big shots, playing a national schedule against teams in California and the U.S.

Thirteen of the Knights’ 30 games were against opponents outside the San Diego Section, including three against Chino Hills, the No. 1 team in the country, and another against nationally ranked Waterloo Sacred Heart of Connecticut.

Walton seldom ventured beyond the County, but his performance in December, 1969, at the prestigious Covina Tournament got him on the national stage.

Helix defeated Rancho Cucamonga Alta Loma, 90-35, Montebello, 72-48, El Monte Arroyo, 92-57, Long Beach Millikan, 71-49, and Pasadena, 110-68.

Millikan went on to win the major Southern Section championship.

Against the playoff-bound Pasadena Bullpups, Walton scored 50 points, had 34 rebounds, and made Sports Illustrated and its Faces in the Crowd feature.

Walton was head and shoulders above the crowd.

Walton was head and shoulders above the crowd.

The Highlanders averaged 88.2 points a game, went past 100 six times and topped 90 on 10 other occasions.  Walton scored 964 points and averaged 29.2, but he is remembered as much for his unselfish play and dominating defense.

Foothills Christian won by an average score of 71-52, had games of 97 and 96 points and bettered 80 in eight other contests.

Leaf scored 852 points and averaged 28.4 points, shot 68 per cent on field goal attempts and made 29 three-point baskets with an average of 39 per cent from behind the arc.

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