No. 8 for Foothills

Basketball: Falcons down Knights in FAC final

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 10:58 am

Foothills Falcons Hunter Karl (5) and Noah WIlkie (14) get sky high to snare a rebound over Holy Trinity Academy Knight Jacob Zelenski during Foothills’ 84-72 win in the league championship on Saturday.
Foothills Falcons Hunter Karl (5) and Noah WIlkie (14) get sky high to snare a rebound over Holy Trinity Academy Knight Jacob Zelenski during Foothills’ 84-72 win in the league championship on Saturday.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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It’s eight and counting for the Foothills Falcons.

The Falcons won their eighth-consecutive Foothills Athletic Council Sr. boys basketball championship by downing the Holy Trinity Academy Knights 84-72 March 8 at HTA.

Foothills got things rocking early when point guard Jamie Derochie made a steal after the opening tip-off and dished the ball to Hunter Karl.

Karl then brought the gym to its feet with a highlight-reel slam-dunk for two of his game-high 34 points.

Not surprisingly the athletic Karl gets sky-high whenever he takes on HTA.

“I have never lost to HTA in anything before,” Karl said. “We have this mentality that no one wants to lose to them. We know that they (HTA) have this mentality that they want to be the team to beat us, so we go out there with fire and intensity.”

Karl got the team fired up on the final play of the first quarter when after crossing the half-court line, he cut to his left and put up a three-point bomb from Frank Lake that went in at the buzzer to give Foothills a 29-14.

It’s been three Karls (Hunter, Devan and Kyle) and three Derochies (Jamie, Ryan and Coleton) since Knights head coach Sam Aiello has beat the Falcons, that being the FAC title game in March 2006.

“Hunter is just a freakishly good athlete and Jamie is so strong defensively,” Aiello said. “We made some early mistakes and we get behind by 21 and it is tough… We battled back, but it’s just too far to comeback from.”

The Knights certainly got the Falcons’ attention when Dylan Wheeler canned a pair of free throws to get HTA within 10 at 79-70 with approximately two minutes to play.

Falcons coach Amron Gwilliam gave the Knights full credit.

“They just don’t quit and they are very well coached,” Gwilliam said. “I was pleased with the way our guys played defence, we just got tired. We have some injuries. Their comeback wasn’t because we weren’t playing defence.”

The Falcons were also hurt by Derochie and big-man Austin Orr fouling out late in the game.

Derochie and Noah Wilkie finished with 13 points for the Falcons in what would be the Grade 12 players’ final game against their cross-town rival. The Knights top scorer was Wheeler with 21. The Grade 11 student still has a shot against Foothills next year. He would have liked a little more time on the clock this year.

“We made that run late in the fourth quarter and it gave us a boost of energy,” Wheeler said. “I thought maybe if the game was a bit longer, we could have beat them.”

Nate Wall had 12 points for the Knights and the Grade 11 student believes HTA can learn from playing the ultra-opportunistic Falcons.

“Every time we turn the ball over, they get the two points,” Wall said.

“It’s frustrating to lose, but it’s a fun team to play against. I think this year has been very close and it makes us better to play them.”

Derochie said continuing the streak has made it easy for the Falcons to get up for HTA.

“That’s exactly our motivation — we don’t want to be the team that lost to them after so long,” Derochie said.

“It can be tough because HTA always has a good team.”

Derochie gave his counterpart in the Knights’ black-and-white, Wheeler a hug. It would be the last time the two Okotoks standout guards would compete against each other in a high school gym.

“We are both competitors and on the court we are very competitive,” Derochie said.

“But off the court, we aren’t going to let that come between us.”

In the zone

The two teams will now gear up for the South Central zones. The Falcons host the Bert Church Chargers March 12 at the Comp in Game 1 of the 4A best-of-three series at 7 p.m. Game 2 is Thursday in Airdrie. Game 3, if needed, is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Comp.

The winner of the series will advance to the 4A provincials in Lethbridge, March 20-22.

The Knights start their zones playoffs March 12, 7 p.m. when they host Springbank. They will then travel to Olds for the zone tournament March 13-16,


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