Boys Hoops: Catalina Foothills holds off Salpointe, 70-67

January 21, 2020 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

Cody Blumenthal is guarded by Braden Miller. (Andy Morales/

Catalina Foothills beat Salpointe 70-67 at home Tuesday night in what many believe is the hottest rivalry in Southern Arizona but that rivalry took five years to develop. Catalina Foothills beat Salpointe nine straight times between 2012 and 2017 but that all changed when the Lancers knocked the Falcons out of the state playoffs in the spring of 2017. That 57-55 victory in the semifinal round of the 4A playoffs put the rivalry on the map.

That 2017 squad was led by sophomore Majok Deng and senior Cameron Miller and the Falcons had junior standout Sam Beskind. The Lancers went on to lose to Shadow Mountain in the championship game two days later and Shadow Mountain got the best of Salpointe again in 2018 but it took a double-overtime victory against Catalina Foothills in the quarterfinal round for the Lancers to get there.

The two teams split their regular season games last year and both were knocked out in the semifinal round and, this year, the two teams started the day ranked in the top four with Salpointe entering the game at No. 3 with a perfect 10-0 record in power-ranking games and Catalina Foothills came in with a No. 4 ranking and the same 10-0 record. The new set of rankings will be released Wednesday at noon.

Catalina Foothills is 17-1 overall with the loss coming at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in California and Salpointe is now 19-1 and that record includes sweeps of the Tip Off Classic and the VisitMesa Invitational. Games played during invitationals do not count towards power rankings.

Deng is a freshman at Pepperdine, Beskind is a freshman at Stanford and Cameron’s younger brother, Braden Miller is the senior guard for the Lancers. Miller scored 10 points in the loss Tuesday night but he scored seven points in the first quarter to pace the Lancers to an 11-10 lead.

On the other side, the Falcons went with 6-foot-9 junior Will Menaugh. Menaugh used his size to dominate early six points in the opening quarter and he finished with 17 points before fouling out as the game got tight in closing moments.

The Falcons built a 27-23 lead at the half but Jordan Gainey poured in 16 of his 24 points in the third quarter to flip momentum and the Lancers led 45-44 after three. That lead gave way to a major run by the Falcons and Charlie Curtis sank two of his four 3-pointers on a wave that that lifted the Falcons to a 61-53 lead with 1:40 left in the game.

Evan Nelson hit a couple of free throws to cut the lead down to 65-59 with 29.7 seconds left but Cody Blumenthal came right back and returned the favor to six seconds later. Down 67-59, Nelson scored to make it 67-61 with 12.6 seconds left but Blumenthal hit a free throw to make it 68-61 with 12 seconds left.

Gainey hit a 3 to cut the lead down to 68-64 with 4.3 seconds left and Blumenthal put the game away with two more free throws with 2 seconds left. Nelson came down and hit a 3 as time expired for the 70-67 final.

Trace Comeau finished with 12 points, Curtis added 14 and Blumenthal led the Falcons with 21, including the last five points at the line. Nelson ended with 15 with seven coming in the fourth quarter and Grant Weitman scored 10.

The win gives the Falcons control of the 4A Kino Region but both teams have bigger dreams for late February and Catalina Foothills travels to Sahuaro (11-7 overall, 7-5 in ranking games) on Thursday and Salpointe visits Vista Grande (8-12, 4-8) on the same night.

Catalina Foothills will visit Salpointe on Feb. 7 and the first round of the 4A playoffs is slated for Feb. 18. The championship game is set for Saturday, Feb. 29.