By Joe Davidson
Already facing a daunting task in facing the tall and talented Deer Valley Wolverines of the North Coast Section, Foothill's challenge became even greater when star wing Michael Bryson went down early in the third quarter, nursing a two-point lead.
That would be down and out.
Bryson rolled his ankle and sat on the bench with an ice pack the rest of the way, imploring his teammates to soldier on. They did, admirably, playing with composure and with defensive fury to topple the Wolverines of Antioch 57-45 in the second game of the Father Kelly Tribute at Jesuit on Saturday.
Huge win," a relieved and delighted Foothill coach Drew Hibbs said. "The guys really picked it up after Bryson, and we played our hearts out."
The gifted 6-foot-4 Bryson scored 18 of his 21 in the first half in showcasing his full arsenal of skills: long-range shooting, ball handling, leadership. Bound for UC Santa Barbara via scholarship. Bryson's ankle isn't considered serious with Pioneer Valley League play opening next week.
Guard Anthony Williams scored 15 for Foothill (12-3), which has suffered losses only to Bee No. 3 Pleasant Grove (by three), No. 14 Center (by three) and to Analy of the Bay Area (by four).
Kelly Bender had nine points for Foothill, which also received superb overall efforts well outside the scoring column from guard David Sanders and forwards Douglas James and Dante Hullum.
Hibbs, the only area boys coach to win two state titles, both with Foothill, said the Mustangs can continue to surge if they play together and with effort.
"We have to play smart, limit our turnovers, and we can compete with anyone," Hibbs said.
That was certainly the case against Deer Valley (10-5), which boasts of 6-foot-9 center Marcus Lee, a junior national recruit. He scored on an early dunk to highlight a 9-0 opening run and had 12 points total. But he didn't score in the fourth, testament to the Mustangs defense.
Follow Joe Davidson for more prep news and updates on Twitter: sb_joedavidson