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Foothills Christian guard Stevie McElroy drives against Hoover center Angelo Chol

The University of San Diego Sports Center was the epicenter for San Diego high school hoops Monday, playing host to the San Diego Elite Eight Showcase. Eight of the section’s best teams played in the showcase, highlighted by top-ranked Hoover facing off against No. 3 Foothills Christian.

“It was great for San Diego basketball tonight,” said Hoover coach Ollie Goulston.

In the third game of the showcase, Foothills Christian guard Troy Leaf got the scoring record, but not the win. Hoover beat the Knights 74-71 in overtime in the most entertaining game of the day.

“Tonight the strength of our schedule paid off. We had nine straight games that went down to the last two minutes and we had another one tonight and we withstood it because we showed a lot of character,” said Hoover head coach Ollie Goulston.

It took Leaf less than 90 seconds to break the section scoring record when he hit a midrange jumper in the first quarter. Leaf scored 21 points in the game and now has 2,982 for his career, passing the mark of 2,962 set by Crawford’s Tyrone Shelley.

“It feels good to beat the record, but at the same time I wish it would have happened it a better way,” Leaf said.

The game was fast-paced and back and for throughout, with neither team able to get ahead by more than a couple points. Early in the fourth quarter, Foothills Christian took a blow when Leaf suffered an injury to his left shoulder. Leaf stayed in the game, but was clearly in pain.

“I really couldn’t lift my left arm without excruciating pain, but I didn’t want to leave my team hanging out there playing the rest of the game,” Leaf said.

After Leaf’s injury, Hoover looked like they took a deciding advantage with a 10-0 run, but Foothills Christian responded with a 10-0 run of their own to pull back even. Both teams forced turnovers in the final 30 seconds to send the game into overtime. Hoover (15-4) scored the first five points of the extra period and hung on for a three-point win.

“I really wanted to win bad,” said Hoover center Angelo Chol. “I don’t want to lose to a team in San Diego – that’s my goal.”

With 16 points, Chol was one of three Hoover players in double figures. Guard Dame Ndiaye finished with a game-high 23 points and guard Eric Wells had 17.

Foothills Christian (16-4) also had three players score in double digits. Leaf and center Jvonte Brooks score 21 apiece and guard Kalob Hatcher added 20, including six three-pointers.

"They were big, they were athletic and they played well," Leaf said. "We tried, we just couldn’t get it done at the end."

The biggest crowd of the day came out for the matchup between two of the best in the section. Despite the rain, it was standing room only in the gym that has a capacity of 1,425.

“When a crowd appears, my energy and level of play go up,” Ndiaye said. “That’s what all our team works for.”

A look at the other Elite Eight action

No. 4 Torrey Pines gets physical with Francis Parker

In the first game of the showcase, No. 4 Torrey Pines beat Francis Parker in a fast, physical game. The Falcons had the lead for most of the game and hung on for a 57-52 win.

“At the beginning of the year, we were playing good teams, but not teams that people look in the newspaper and say, ‘Wow that’s a quality win,’” said Torrey Pines guard Max Keller. “Francis Parker is a really good team and this is definitely a quality win for us.”

Francis Parker got out to a fast start and led by four after the first quarter. Torrey Pines adjusted to the pace and took a three-point lead into the break when guard Nick Kerr hit a jumper at the buzzer. The Falcons led 44-36 at the end of the third.

“I thought that our energy level needed to be ratcheted up a bit,” said Torrey Pines head coach John Olive. “But our toughness was good, especially around the basket.”

Kerr led Torrey Pines (14-1) with 17 points, with forward Amir Begovic adding 15 points and Keller scoring 12. Guard Dalante Dunklin scored a game-high 20 points in a losing effort for Francis Parker (9-6).

No. 2 La Costa Canyon rolls over Maranatha Christian

The nightcap delivered the most decisive result, as No. 2 La Costa Canyon delivered a wire-to-wire victory over Maranatha Christian. The Mavericks led by eight at the end of the first quarter and never looked back en route to a 64-45 victory.

“It was a nice challenge on a big stage and it’s always good to get into those environments,” said La Costa Canyon coach Dave Cassaw. “That’s where we want to be at the end of the season – in games where it’s special and you’re playing for something.”

The game featured two of the section’s best big men – Mavericks center Dennis Kramer and Eagles center Chen Cai. Cai finished with a game-high 25 points, but Kramer was part of a more balanced attack that delivered the victory.

“Both guys did some good things,” Cassaw said. “Chen made some tough shots fading away. He’s a whirling dervish of shots and we had to withstand some of his runs and the things he was able to do.”

Guard Drew Kitchens led La Costa Canyon (15-2) with 22 points, with forward Matt Shrigley (15 points) and Kramer (11) also finishing in double figures. Kitchens said the Mavericks are every bit deserving of their billing as one of the section’s best.

“We have to prove ourselves more against San Diego teams,” Kitchens said. “But we’ve been to tough tournaments in Los Angeles and Orange County.”

Maranatha Christian head coach Rle Nichols said the Eagles did not rebound well enough to win. In addition to Cai’s 25, guard David Porter chipped in 10 for Maranatha Christian (9-9).

“We needed to have more energy down the stretch,” Porter said.

El Camino gets back on track with win over Horizon

The second matchup of the day featured El Camino and Horizon, perennial section powers struggling to get it going in preseason. The defending section champion Wildcats used runs at the end of each half to win 51-38.

“It feels great. We’ve had some ups and downs this season but we’re at a good point right now,” said El Camino forward Preston Butler.

El Camino has now won two straight. The Wildcats struggled early this season adjusting to life without head coach Ray Johnson, who is currently an assistant at Farleigh Dickinson.

“Our coaches have been drilling us, really making sure that we play defense and really come together as a team and I think we’re almost there,” Butler said.

Guard Brian Gorman led El Camino (9-7) with 17 points and Butler added 11. For Horizon (3-12), Omar Richards led the team with 17 points.

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