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Win, loss for Foothills Christian

12/26/2014, 10:38pm PST
By John Maffei

Knights triumph but lose top player Leaf to sprained ankle in Holiday Classic


Foothills Christian junior TJ Leaf had 22 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots against state-ranked L.A. Westchester before suffering a sprained ankle in the fourth quarter.

Wanting to make an impression, the first 21/2 minutes of Friday’s game were everything Foothills Christian could have asked for.

The Knights scored the game’s first 10 points and cruised to a 67-49 win over L.A. Westchester — ranked No. 29 in the state by MaxPreps — in the opening round of the National Division of the Under Armour Holiday Classic at Torrey Pines High.

The final 2:05, however, could be disastrous for the Knights, losing TJ Leaf to a sprained left ankle.

The 6-foot-10 junior, who has committed to Arizona, was helped off the floor.

After the game, he sat on the trainer’s table with his ankle encased in ice.

“All I know is that it hurts,” said Leaf, who finished with a game-high 22 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots.

“I came down on another player’s ankle, slid and rolled it. It happens.”

El Cajon’s Foothills Christian (7-4, but 9-2 on the court after a pair of forfeits) is ranked No. 2 in San Diego and No. 35 in the state by MaxPreps. The Knights face the unenviable task of playing Corona Centennial (6-2) at 7 p.m. today at Torrey Pines. Centennial is ranked No. 8 in the nation on the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings.

Corona Centennial blew out Montebello Cantwell-Sacred Heart 68-46 Friday. Cantwell is ranked No. 18 in the state by MaxPreps.

And Foothills could also be without guard Nikko Paranada, who had both wrists wrapped in ice after the game.

“I assume TJ is out for the rest of the tournament,” said Foothills coach Brad Leaf, TJ’s father.

“Nikko was coming back from a broken wrist, just coming into his own. I’m not sure what his status is.”

Paranada finished with 13 points while Luis Salgado and Omajae Smith each had 11 points and six rebounds.

“We were really playing well as a team,” TJ Leaf said. “We have a lot of new guys, and we were really starting to click.

“We wanted to come out in the first two or three minutes and show we deserved to be here. If we have all our players healthy, I think we can beat anyone on a given night.”

The Knights finished 20-9 last season, losing to Sweetwater in the San Diego Section Division III semifinals.

But they were very much an afterthought in the county.

“We waited three years before we got in this tournament,” Brad Leaf said. “We play all over the state and country, and wanted to play at home, in a high-level tournament to let people see us.

“We played very well in this game. But we have bigger aspirations than just this one game.

“Without TJ and maybe without Nikko, we’ll see what happens.”

Ellis Sallahudyn paced Westchester with 20 points, including five 3-pointers.

Notable

The Patrick School of Elizabeth, N.J., beat Lawndale 54-42 in a National Division game. Brodricks Jones, a 6-10 forward who has signed with San Diego State, scored five points for Lawndale. Chimezie Metu, a 6-10 player who has signed with USC, had 17 points for Lawndale.

• La Costa Canyon (10-1), ranked No. 1 in San Diego and No. 11 in the state by MaxPreps, beat Santa Monica 88-71 in the National Division. Tommy McCarthy and Brady Twombly both scored 34 points for the Mavericks. LCC plays Patrick at 7 p.m. today at LCC.

• Also in the National, Torrey Pines (10-2), ranked No. 3 in San Diego, lost 64-46 to Thomas Jefferson of Brooklyn, N.Y. The Falcons trailed by just five points early in the fourth quarter before fading down the stretch. Dominic Hovasse paced Torrey Pines with 17 points and eight rebounds.

• In the Senators Division at Santa Fe Christian, Kearny (8-3) — ranked No. 9 in San Diego — beat San Ysidro 74-67. The Komets play St. Augustine of Richland, N.J., at 3:50 p.m. today at SFC.

• Also in the Senators Division, El Camino (10-1), ranked No. 5 in San Diego, beat Seattle Roosevelt 67-59 and will play Army-Navy (10-1) at 5:25 p.m. today at SFC. Army-Navy, ranked No. 8 in San Diego, beat Mater Dei Catholic 67-39.

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