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Late game heroics lift Foothill past Liberty

Updated January 23, 2019 - 9:48 pm

Foothill boys basketball coach Paul DeSantis contemplated calling a timeout in the waning seconds against Liberty on Wednesday night.

Had he called one, though, Falcons guard Fisher Welch wouldn’t have attacked the rim from the left wing. He wouldn’t have pump faked Patriots junior wing Julian Strawther near the basket. And he wouldn’t have made the go-ahead layup with 6.3 seconds left in regulation.

“I know coach,” Welch said. “He trusts us in the game and in those situations.”

Foothill escaped Liberty with a 63-61 victory, thanks in part to their team defense, execution — and their coach’s decision to stay out of the way. Welch finished with 11 points and Colin Russell scored a team-high 14 for the Falcons (13-7, 4-1 Southeast League).

“I thought about calling a timeout in that situation … (but) I know he’s a winner. And when he had the ball in his hands, I knew he was going to make a winning play.” DeSantis said of Welch and his game-winner. “There’s no way I was going to call timeout.”

The Falcons and Patriots were tied for second place behind Coronado in their league and were evenly matched for a majority of the 32 minutes. The Falcons keyed in on Strawther, the area’s leading scorer at 28.8 points per game, and held him to a workmanlike 20 points by denying him the ball and extending their help defense toward him.

Liberty was equally focused on Foothill’s motion offense, and played the Falcons to a 61-61 tie with about a minute left. But the Patriots (8-9, 3-2) opted not to play for the last shot and missed a 12-footer in the lane with about 13 seconds left.

Falcons guard Dylan Hushaw corralled the rebound and passed to Welch streaking down the left sideline. The 5-foot-10-inch guard did the rest.

“We were practicing jump stops (this week) in practice, and I put that to use,” Welch said. “This is what I play for. I play for games like this.”

More preps: Follow at nevadapreps.com and @NevadaPreps on Twitter.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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