SANTEE When Grossmont opened the season with five consecutive losses in the Eastlake Titan Tipoff, Foothillers veteran coach Frank Foggiano didn’t panic.
“I’m too old to do that,” he said. “Besides, we played some really good teams (Hoover, San Ysidro and Eastlake).”
Since that dreadful beginning the Foothillers have clawed their way into the finals of the Grossmont Winter Classic and the Chula Vista Spartan Classic.
After knocking off West Hills 53-39 in Friday night’s Grossmont Hills League encounter, the Foothillers have won six of eight and nine of their last 12 games.
“We’ve become a more consistent team,” said Grossmont guard Anthony Lawrence, who is also the quarterback of the Foothillers football team. “We emphasize team where everybody contributes and we don’t rely on just one guy.”
Case in point: Grossmont (9-8, 2-1) had four players reach double-scoring digits, including Lawrence, who nailed three treys as he finished with 10 points.
Bilal Rahim, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior, was a force inside the paint with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Not to be overlooked was 6-foot-7 freshman post Tommy Rutherford, who tossed in 11 points and grabbed 19 rebounds.
“I played with the varsity guys during the summer and Coach (Foggiano) said he would watch how I progressed before deciding whether I would open the season on the varsity.”
Rutherford has played in every game.
“I was ready to go and I’m happy to be here,” he said.
Added Rahim, “We make a pretty good 1-2 punch down low. We both can score and we both can rebound.”
“Rutherford completely dominated the boards, and when he does that we are usually pretty successful,” noted Foggiano. “Rahim just needs to slow down. When he gets the ball inside he tends to rush his shot and many times slams it off the glass.”
Rounding out the ’Hillers scoring quartet is Austin Swisher, who had 13 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
“We’re playing pretty well right now,” said Lawrence. “But we have to keep getting better. I think our best games are still ahead of us.”
Grossmont is a league contender but nobody in that six-team circuit can be counted out, including West Hills (11-5, 2-1).