Falcons edge Gators on Starr’s 3-pointer

Foothill’s Austin Starr hadn’t made a basket since the first quarter, and had airballed a free-throw attempt a couple of minutes earlier.

But that didn’t stop the sophomore guard from hitting the biggest shot of the game, and perhaps the season, for the Falcons.

Starr’s 3-pointer with 2:51 to play put Foothill up 50-48, and the Falcons didn’t trail again as they topped host Green Valley 55-51 on Tuesday.

"We’ve been struggling," Foothill coach Kevin Soares said. "We’ve been dealing with issues. I think to come back and win this game tonight, which was a very, very key game for us, might turn our season around."

The win left the Falcons (12-9) a game behind first-place Coronado in the Southeast League with four games to play. Foothill won its first five league games before dropping two straight to open the door in the league.

Green Valley (10-12, 7-3) led for most of the second half, and held a 10-point advantage with six minutes to play.

That’s when Foothill began chipping away, going on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 45 on a pair of free throws by Tyler Roberts with 4:50 to go.

Green Valley’s Bryce Larsen hit a 3-pointer to put the Gators back on top, and they held the lead until Starr’s 3-pointer.

Foothill had the ball out of bounds under their own basket, and Brannon Cresanto found Starr open on the right wing and he calmly nailed he shot.

"He’s a shooter," Soares said. "He’s a sophomore, and sometimes sophomores are up and down. But the one thing we have confidence in is he can knock down a shot if he’s left open."

Foothill built a nine-point lead in the second quarter before the Falcons kicked it away. Foothill turned the ball over 20 times in the first half, helping Green Valley close the half on a 17-0 run to take a 33-25 halftime lead. Foothill had 32 turnovers.

"Atrocious," Soares said of the turnovers. "We’re still looking for that guy that we can get the ball to and just kind of get out of his way. We don’t have that, so we’ve got to bring it up by committee, and that’s not always to our benefit."

Cresanto and Elijah Smith each had 13 points to lead the Falcons, and Taylor Montgomery grabbed 10 rebounds.

Roberts came off the bench to score nine points, all in the second half, for Foothill. He also had five rebounds.

"Tyler can play," Soares said. "Tyler’s definitely a talent, but his thing is he’s got to be consistent with it. Hopefully this game will show him that we need him down the stretch to make this run."

Durrell McDonald led Green Valley with 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals.

Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587.

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