When Caleb Foster goes into attack mode, close the blinds and get ready for superhero action moves. The Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High senior guard heading to Duke doesn’t care who gets in the way, he just scores and creates havoc.
In Friday night’s Division I men’s basketball state championship game at the Golden 1 Center, Livermore Granada had 7-foot center Andrew McKeever. Foster’s drives to the basket helped bench McKeever with five fouls with 4:42 remaining, prompting coach Matt Sargeant to yell, “He’s out! It’s out!
It was the last breath of life for Granada. Notre Dame’s fantastic trio of Foster, Gonzaga hires Dusty Stromer and Houston hires Mercy Miller was too much.
Foster’s offense propelled the Knights to their first state championship in school history, a 67-58 win over Grenada. The Knights led by as many as 16 points in the first half. Foster finished with 33 points, the best individual scoring performance in Division I state championship history and left little doubt that he is worthy of All-American recognition even if he was denied selection to the McDonald’s All-American Game.
“It was great,” Sargeant said.
Miller started the game with a dunk and eight quick points. Foster finished the first quarter with a 3-pointer and seven points. Foster was just starting to warm up and finished the half with 18 points.
Both players hailed from Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy. Notre Dame took weeks to develop the chemistry needed to win big games. It happened in February and March. Four wins over Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, a double-overtime loss to Studio City Harvard-Westlake, a blowout victory over Santa Ana Mater Dei, and victories over Torrance Bishop Montgomery and San Diego St. Augustine indicated that the Knights had learned to play like one. unit. . Critical in the transition was that Stromer accepted a lesser offensive role.
Stromer sat out his sophomore season, the COVID-19-shortened 2020-21 season, then became a standout player as a junior, averaging nearly 20 points per game. There are few more versatile players. Whatever Sargeant asked him to do this season, Stromer delivered quickly and efficiently. Stromer was having back pain this week and Sargeant said he probably shouldn’t be playing. “The harshness was unreal,” he said.
On Friday, Stromer, the tallest Knight in a five-guard lineup, was asked at times to guard McKeever and focus on rebounding.
“It’s another example of his versatility on both ends of the court,” Sargeant said.
With Stromer contributing as a rebounder and defender, he freed up a Duke-bound Foster to ignite the offense. Foster scored 12 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. Against Granada’s 2-3 zone, the Knights found a hole in the bottom line that allowed Dante Ogbu to hit a pair of three-pointers. The Knights finished the half up 39-27.
Now it’s up to Gonzaga for Stromer and Duke for Foster. He would have earned a special place in the Notre Dame sports history book.
“It means the world to me,” Stromer said of winning the championship. “I promised my teammates last year that I would do this.”