Grossmont’s Tommy Rutherford scores two of his 25 points, but it wasn’t enough as Helix recorded its eighth win in its last 10 games. -- Misael Virgen
LA MESA -- In their first two meetings this season, the Helix and Grossmont boys basketball teams traded wins.
The Foothillers prevailed by three points in the championship game of the Chula Vista Spartan Classic. Then the Highlanders returned the favor with a one-point victory in the teams’ initial league matchup.
Helix took the rubber match Tuesday with a 58-49 triumph over visiting Grossmont.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out: You have to stop the big guy (Tommy Rutherford),” Helix coach John Singer said. “So we ran four guys at him and tried to wear him down a little.”
Despite double teams and different looks from four Helix defenders, the 6-foot-9 sophomore center had 25 points and 10 rebounds, but Rutherford’s teammates combined for only 24 points.
“(Rutherford) is a terrific player,” Helix senior guard Christian Bell said. “You’re not going to stop him from getting his points and rebounds, but if you limit the damage his outside crew does, then you have a very good chance.”
When Rutherford took a breather in the final period, Helix (16-9, 6-1) went on a 12-0 run for a 50-38 lead with under 6 minutes left. Grossmont (16-8, 3-4) never recovered.
Bell and junior forward Marcus Norris drained seven free throws during the final stretch that sealed Helix’s eighth win in its last 10 games and kept the Highlanders tied with Steele Canyon for the Grossmont Hills League lead.
“I wanted to be aggressive and get inside the paint,” said Bell, who had a team-high 19 points and six assists. “I missed some early free throws, but in the fourth quarter, when the game was close, I flicked my wrist and tried to bend my knees a little more so they’d fall.”