RENO — Foothill senior Earl Jones did everything he could to give his team a chance on Thursday.
He made shot after shot, steal after steal, but in the end, Jones and the Falcons couldn’t upend Reno, as the Huskies won 76-61 in the Class 4A boys state basketball semifinals at Lawlor Events Center.
Jones scored 33 points, including a personal 8-0 run late in the fourth quarter to cut the Huskies’ lead to 66-61 with 2:27 to play, but the Falcons wouldn’t manage another bucket.
"He played his butt off," Foothill coach Kevin Soares said. "He played the way a senior point guard should play.
"He did everything within his power to get us into the next round. It just came up short."
Reno (25-6) will play Cheyenne (19-7) in the state title game at 8 tonight at Lawlor Events Center.
The Falcons (23-9) caught a break when Reno’s leading scorer and top ballhandler, Austin Morgan, fouled out with 3:41 to go and the Huskies leading 64-53.
Morgan ran into foul trouble trying to match Jones, who knocked down four 3-pointers in the first quarter and seven for the game.
"The problem was Earl Jones is a good player," Reno coach Kyle Schellin said. "Austin kind of has that mentality like, ‘I’m going to show him.’ He’s a junior, and hopefully he learned from his mistake.
"He hasn’t been in foul trouble all year, so I thanked him in there for not fouling out until the state semifinal game. That was good timing on his part."
Without Morgan, the Huskies found themselves with other guards having to handle the ball against pressure.
"It got a little tight there," Schellin said. "And we haven’t been in a position where other guys have had to step up and handle the ball against pressure like that all season.
"We haven’t even put a press break in because Austin doesn’t usually need a press break."
The Falcons attacked the remaining Reno guards, forcing nine fourth-quarter turnovers, but were unable to complete the comeback.
"We just ran out of gas," Soares said. "We wanted to pressure them because we knew their ballhandlers weren’t as good as Morgan. But our legs were like quicksand."
Duke-bound forward Olek Czyz led Reno with 25 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots. The 6-foot-8-inch Czyz teamed with 6-6 Cavin Hill to block eight shots.
"With him and Cavin underneath, it’s tough to teach that," Schellin said. "When you’ve got big guys like that, and we’ve got a couple of them, it makes it a lot easier defensively."
Morgan added 21 points for Reno, which won the 2006 state title. Morgan and Czyz played key minutes in that championship game.
"It was our first time here for all these guys," Soares said. "It was an eye-opening experience for them.
"On the flip side, Morgan and Olek have been there before, and it showed. They led them, and the rest of their team just fed off them, and that’s why they’re in the championship."
Contact reporter Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 380-4587.