In what has become one of the top rivalries in OC boys basketball, #8 Foothill held off a late rally from #4 Canyon to win the Crestview League opener for both teams 56-53 on Friday. The Knights came into the matchup on an 11 game winning streak and ranked #24 in the state by SB Live while the Comanches, ranked #14 in CIF Division 1, were without injured Juniors Jaden and Josh Goodall, who were averaging a combined 25 ppg.
Both teams came out playing stout defense as the Comanches opened with an early 8-2 lead before the Knights took a 14-10 lead after Carlo Billings beat the buzzer with a crafty move in the post to end the 1st. Sophomore Brandon Benjamin asserted himself in the 2nd and got to the rim as he scored 9 of Canyon’s 16 points in the quarter to help tie the score at 26 heading into the half.
Benjamin led all scorers in the half with 12 and Senior Tyler Howard, a University of Loyola Chicago volleyball signee, added 8 for the Comanches. Foothill was led by Travis Paleo’s 9 while Isaiah Bernard and Carlo Billings had 6.
Opening the 2nd half on a 14-2 run, the Knights went up 40-28 with 3:48 left in the 3rd after Senior Adam Gonzalez’s 3. Canyon would finish the quarter on a 8-4 run but trailed 44-36 heading into the 4th. The Comanches cut the lead 49-45 but Travis Paleo’s 3 with 3:02 left pushed Foothill’s lead back to 7. Connor Leonard’s 3 for Canyon with :37 left would cut the lead to 4 and Brandon Benjamin hit a step back 3 with :13 left cut the score to 54-53. Isaiah Benard would put the game away as he hammered home a dunk with 6.2 seconds left as Foothill extended their winning streak to 12 and improved to 17-1.
Travis Paleo (15): Smooth, high IQ guard who can create his own shot, finish in traffic, and score on all 3 levels.
Carlo Billings (12): Tough guard showed a repertoire of moves in the post.
Isaiah Bernard (10): Athletic wing with a mid-range jumper who plays above the rim .
Brandon Benjamin (27): Extremely crafty player who scores in a variety of ways. Phenomenal footwork, gets to the rim at will and scores on all 3 levels. Great vision and feel for the game.