Despite a roster lacking a lot of varsity experience, the Catalina Foothills Falcons were able to pick up a 61-57 win on the road in Gilbert Tuesday evening against Williams Field. It was far from a pretty game, with some stretches of sloppy plays from both teams as they scratched and clawed their way to the win. With only one returning player for the Falcons, Coach Doug D’Amore knew he’d have his work cut out for him this year.
“It’s a slow process,” D’Amore said. “Whether it’s practice or a game, there’s very little experience. There’s moments where we look really good and moments like we had tonight.”
Things got off to a bit of a slow start for the Falcons in the first quarter as they worked to get settled offensively. After getting into a flow, Catalina Foothills was able to work its way out of a deficit to hit the final bucket of the first quarter and tie the game up at 14.
Opening up the second quarter, sophomore Dante Brooks added on another two with a basket to give Catalina Foothills their first lead of the game.
It continued to be back and forth play, as Williams Field was fighting to take back the lead. Going into the half, Catalina Foothills hit the final basket to take a 32-31 lead on a shot from Quincey Geary.
Coming out of the half, the Falcons opened up with another bucket from Brooks. The Falcons were able to execute some adjustments and slowly start building a lead, which was really kicked into gear on a three from senior and lone returning varsity player Dylan Hadley with about 5:30 left in the third quarter. From there, the Falcons went on a 15-point unanswered run to close out the third leading 51-35.
“[Hadley] has done a great job in a role he’s never been asked to do and for us, that’s huge,” D’Amore said. “As long as we can kind of keep him understanding what we need to do, and focusing on that, we’ll be fine.”
However, the fourth quarter was where things really started getting dicey. Poor ball handling led to a lot of turnovers, along with missed shots and fouls, allowing Williams Field to get right back in the game. With just under four minutes left to play, the Black Hawks were back within one, trailing 54-53.
“It starts in practice, like everything,” D’Amore said. “The players have an idea of what they need to do, but again, getting five guys on the same page [can be hard]. I still don’t even know what I’m doing with this group, so it’s all of us. We’re all trying to figure it out together.”
However, the Falcons were able to do what they needed to do to get the job done, knocking down some free throws right before the buzzer to help secure a win. It wasn’t pretty, but Catalina Foothills was able to grind its way to a 3-0 start to the season so far.
There’s still a lot of room for growth within the program, but the talent is there for the Falcons. It’s going to take some time to get things firing on all cylinders, and it’s still very early on in the season. However, D’Amore knows if they want to make another run in the playoffs it’s going to take a lot of focus and discipline at practice.
“We do have some young kids, a couple sophomores and a freshman,” D’Amore said. “So guys like AB [Mendoza], Dante [Brooks] they’re really just learning what it takes on a day in and day out basis.”
Brittany Bowyer is a freelance journalist who started her career as an intern for a small sports website back in 2015. Since then, she’s obtained her master’s degree in Sports Journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU and is in her fourth year of covering various levels of sports across a broad range of platforms in Arizona. You can follow her on twitter @bbowyer07