SACRAMENTO — While the rest of the Foothill boys basketball team cheered together in a mob and jumped in celebration, Edward ‘Squid’ Turner and Cesar Valdez embraced. The moment completed the rise and reclamation for this storied program.
The Trojans beat Mt. Shasta 78-66 for the CIF Division V State Boys Basketball Championship at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Friday afternoon.
It’s the second state title for the Trojans after winning the D-II championship in 1988. It’s also the first boys basketball state title for a Kern County program in 25 years, the last coming when East High won the D-II championship in 1994.
For Turner and Valdez, however — two seniors with the program who were part of an eight-win team as freshmen — leaving a lasting legacy means no longer living in the shadows of those that came before them.
“It’s everything. That’s all love,” Turner said of the embrace. “We’ve been working on this since Day 1. I went to middle school with Cesar. For us, for the east side, this means everything.”
As for head coach Wes Davis, when he took over the program from Foothill legend Joe Turner four years ago, the talent well had dried up a decade prior. The Trojans (24-11) had just two double-digit win seasons during that period.
But Turner turned over the keys to Davis with Turner's own family legacy — his son Squid — walking onto campus.
When Squid Turner started as a freshman at Foothill, he was already 6-foot-6 and looked the part of a program-changing type talent.
Each year, the Trojans win total improved and there was a lot of excitement that followed.
After Jaden Phillips showed promise as a freshman last season, two out-of-area transfers, Warren Stingley and Elijah Seales, came in over the summer and gave Davis hope that he had the type of talent to make a deep playoff run.
But Seales and Stingley were held out of action early in the season, awaiting approval for their transfer attempts.
Davis loaded the front-end of the schedule ambitiously, and quality chemistry wasn’t always there for a very talented team. The Trojans had a .500 record on Jan. 25 after losing at home by a point to North.
Things started to improve, however.
Foothill beat Bakersfield Christian for the Central Section D-IV title, the first for the program in 19 years.
And still, Davis wasn’t satisfied.
No longer did he just want his program being content as one of the best in the section. He wanted to prove a team from Kern County could compete at the state level and bring a title back to town.
“At my core, I am a community person,” Davis said. “You build relationships with people from within your community through sports. You have people here today from Bakersfield from different walks of life … When we come back (to town), yes this is for Foothill, but you’ve got Bakersfield here. So many people here from Bakersfield to take the day off and make this four-to-five hour trip to see these young men play.”
That shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who've watched this playoff run and the 13-game win streak the Trojans had to end the season.
All four Southern California regional playoff games for Foothill featured standing-room-only crowds, including the SoCal finals at North on Tuesday.
Then the city came out in Sacramento to witness the Trojans become the first boys basketball team from Kern County to win multiple state championships.
“This is simply amazing,” Davis said. “We know what we’ve been through the last four years, the arguments. You do all of that. Then this year started with all the turmoil. But that’s how you do it. Guys have to stick with it and go through adversity.”
Like Turner, who notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds on Friday, Phillips is a legacy name at Foothill.
The sophomore is the nephew of Reggie Phillips, who was a starting guard when the Trojans won state in 1988.
“This means everything. We are changing the culture,” Phillips said. “We did something different for the east side and we are bringing the championship back to Bakersfield, which means a lot for me and my family.”
Phillips led Foothill on Friday with 25 points and was a perfect 10 of 10 from the free throw line.
Valdez and Phillips both hit their first 3-point attempts and the Trojans trailed just once in the first quarter against Mt. Shasta (33-2).
“I felt comfortable. My teammates and my coaches believed in me,” Phillips said. “This is crazy, man.”
Valdez scored eight points for Foothill, but only played 11 minutes. Warren Stingley had eight points and a team-high 13 rebounds in the title game win.
“The sacrifice that (Valdez) made was to be unselfish to just be here and help with a state championship was amazing,” Davis said.
Foothill won by at least 12 points in all five state playoff games. That included in the state finals despite a 29-point performance by Mt. Shasta senior guard Kaden Riccomini, who is headed to UC Davis on a baseball scholarship.
“To get a double-digit win here surprised me a little bit,” Seales said. “I thought they were going to be a little better than they were.”
Seales scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He brought the fans to their feet with a thunderous dunk in the second half that began the celebration.
After ending a two-and-a-half decade drought for the county in the boys state finals, Davis is ready to make sure his team is remembered the same way that first team was 31 years ago.
“That’s the most important thing,” Davis said. “These guys’ names will ring just the same way….It’s simply amazing, baby.”
CIF Division V State Boys Basketball Championship
At Golden 1 Center in Sacramento
Foothill 78, Mt. Shasta 66
FHS (24-11): Valdez 8, Seales 22, Stingley 9 (13 rebounds), Phillips 25, Turner 12 (11 rebounds), Davis 2.
MSHS (33-2): Ko. Riccomini 13, Snure 4 (10 rebounds), Johnson 2, Ka. Riccomini 29, Bauman 10, Ellerbe 8.