By Katelyn Merrell
On Wednesday January 7 the Tustin Tillers varsity basketball team invaded the “Dungeon” ready to compete in the classic Tustin vs Foothill Rivalry game. One side of the gym exploded in a sea of white and the other in a sea of red. The roar of the crowd rang in the ears of players and fans. With the hype of two extremely crazy student sections the stage was set for an epic rivalry game. As the announcer called starters to the floor the crowd level elevated to the max. Then, #44 Myles Garvin was called. Garvin, an ex-Knight, left Foothill last year to play Basketball at Tustin. When the announcer called, “Myles Garvin,” the student section of Foothill held up signs spelling out TRAITOR. The tension of the game is usually high, however in this particular game it turned personal.
Tustin’s George Wilson won the tip off against Foothill’s #44 Eric Patton. The Tillers started strong taking an early 9-2 lead. However, by the end of the first quarter the Knights came back, behind by only a point making it 11-12 Tustin. Throughout the second quarter the two teams continued to battle. Tustin’s lead wavered in the first two quarters as they got into some foul trouble. By the end of the half Foothill managed to take the lead for the first time that night: 24-22 Foothill.
As the third quarter began the intensity continued. Tustin got back on their feet scoring 12 points compared to Foothill’s 6. Transfer student from Servite, #21 Cody Kuzay made his first appearance for the Tillers Varsity squad that night. Kuzay showed up and made some excellent plays on defense by rebounding, stealing, and succeeding with a big time block on Foothill’s #5 Riley O’Hern. He also managed to score 2 points on offense. Although Tustin dominated the third quarter, the biggest play of the game was Patton’s (#44) epic dunk. Foothill’s sea of white erupted in cheers as the 6’6” forward made the most memorable play of the game. However, Tustin’s varsity boys still ended the 3rd quarter with a 4 point lead leading the game 34-30.
At the start of the fourth quarter, both student sections erupted with even louder cheers. Foothill gained momentum. They managed to draw fouls and follow through with key plays. With a minute left in the game, TJ Shorts (#5), the Tiller’s starting point guard, held the ball at the top of the key and let the clock wind down until he drove hard into the paint and managed a double clutch lay-up to put the Tillers ahead by 1 point. Right after Shorts’ play Foothill called a time out. After in-bounding the ball, Foothill missed their shot. Tustin’s Josh DeBest (#3) caught the rebound, got fouled, and was sent to the line. DeBest missed his first free throw, but clutched his second putting the Tillers up 43-39. With seconds left, Foothill’s Reed Nakakihara (#10) caught the in-bounding pass, and threw up a shot from way outside that hit the back board and swished in making the score 43-42. Unfortunately for the Knights, Nakakihara’s shot was the last play of the game making the final score 43-42 Tustin.