Cypress Coach Tom Gorrell decided to reward his players for their regular-season efforts in the opening round of the Southern Section Division II-A playoffs against Foothill. Though it took them three quarters to respond to his generosity, Foothill was in trouble once they did.
Cypress, the county's ninth-ranked team, rallied from a four-point halftime deficit and rolled in the second half to a 59-41 victory over Foothill in front of a packed house Friday night at Cypress High.
The victory advances Cypress into Tuesday's second round at Pasadena Muir.
Chad Boberg led Cypress with 15 points. Derek Mitchell finished with 14, 12 of them in the second half. Brett Boulton added 12.
Foothill (14-15), a wild-card entry, led for most of the first half. One reason was because Gorrell split his starting lineup into two units with his reserves. He platooned the two squads for the first half as Foothill outplayed them.
Gorrell said he wanted to reward his players for finishing as co-champions of the Empire League. Foothill benefited from the novel idea, though Knights Coach Bob Thate expressed his displeasure to Gorrell when the contest ended.
"I have a lot of respect for Foothill and Coach Thate, but I guess he didn't believe I took them seriously," Gorrell said. "Nothing could be further from the truth. We just wanted to reward our kids. And that was our way of doing it."
Foothill led, 25-21, at halftime before the Centurions' (21-5) regular starters opened the third quarter with a 11-2 run for a 32-27 lead after a basket by Boulton. Foothill rallied and tied the score, 32-32, after Lance Stern made a steal and converted it into a layup with 3:11 left in the quarter. But the Knights failed to score the rest of the quarter and Cypress got two free throws by Boberg, another by sophomore West Bunn, Jr., and a layup by Kevin Gringas for a 37-32 advantage entering the final quarter.
Foothill's cold shooting continued in the fourth quarter as Cypress pulled away. A three-point play by reserve Jeff Svicarovich pulled Foothill to within 39-35 with 7:32 left, but Cypress limited Foothill to only one basket during the next six minutes.