Boys basketball: Amador Valley beats Foothill 61-50 on senior night

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Vincent Ma

Colton Cash (#11) prepares to go up for a contested layup as the crowd watches in anticipation.

Amador Valley’s varsity boys basketball defeated the Foothill Falcons 61-50 on senior night. A ceremony was held for the graduating seniors to commemorate their final regular season home game at Amador. 

“I’m speechless. Man, those kids worked hard for me for two years. It’s a tough moment, it’s always hard to say goodbye. They’re great young men, I’m proud of them, and I’m happy to be a part of their lives,” said head coach Willis Gardner.

Friday night’s rivalry game started off with an intense energy level from the players and student sections. The teams fought hard from the jump with strong perimeter defense, and Foothill made multiple corner three-pointers to gain an early lead. 

The Dons continued to fight back with steals leading to fastbreak opportunities. Senior guards Tyler Cheng (‘23) and Mateo Jackson (‘23) conducted the half-court offense in the first half to find open shots for their teammates.

Foothill built a nine-point lead late in the second quarter, but a full-court shot connected for Jackson at the buzzer to build momentum for the Dons. Amador trailed 23-29 heading into halftime. 

Amador started the third quarter with more energy on both sides of the ball. Jackson and senior guard Colton Cash (‘23) took control of the offense by spreading the ball around and the Dons began feeding off the overall energy in the stadium.

“At halftime, we just talked about playing with heart. Any time you play Foothill, the game comes down to heart and effort. In the second half, we played for Amador. We stopped playing individual, selfish basketball,” said Gardner.  

Senior guard Evan Tian (‘23) hit a corner three at the end of the third quarter to put the Dons up 41-39. Both teams continued playing at a high-energy level in the fourth quarter and stayed calm on offense throughout the fast-paced game. 

The intensity picked up when the teams traded baskets late in the fourth quarter. Up by four with under two minutes remaining, the Dons played tight defense and executed big plays down the stretch to seal the victory. 

After the Dons’ team manager made the final basket that clinched the win, Amador students stormed the court in excitement. 

“(The senior night ceremony) was (filled with) mixed emotions. Just seeing us graduating is sad. But we had to put that aside and lock in for the game, and that’s what we did. Our crowd definitely helped out. Having good energy made us play harder and play with more heart,” said Cash.

Despite the big win for the Dons, they’ll have to do it again on Monday night against the Falcons, this time with playoff elimination on the line. 

“You know they’re coming back with a chip on their shoulder. We’ve just got to be disciplined and play the way we played,” said Gardner

The Amador Valley Dons will face off against the Foothill Falcons on Monday, Feb. 6 at Amador Valley High School for round one of the EBAL Playoffs.

Amador and Foothill students packed the stands on Friday during the sold-out rivalry game. The stadium is expected to reach maximum capacity for Monday’s rematch. (Vincent Ma)