BOYS HOOPS: Sabino uses big comeback to defeat Catalina Foothills 56-52

December 11, 2018 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

Sabino standout Phoenix Katz drives the lane with Will Menaugh providing the defense. (Andy Morales/

Down 31-15 to Catalina Foothills moments into the second half, Sabino went on an improbable run the rest of the way to defeat the Falcons 56-52 on the road. The win pushed the Sabercats record to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in power-ranking games.

Leading the charge for the Sabercats was former Falcon Phoenix Katz. The 6-foot-7 senior led the Sabercats with 18 points with 12 coming during the comeback. Katz played for the Falcons as a freshman and a sophomore. Junior guard Cesar Saenz added 15 points and fellow junior Pablo Gutierrez finished with 13 but senior standout Blake Rustand scored six of his eight points in the final quarter including a 3-pointer to start the final period and three straight free throws to put the game away in the final seconds.

“We’re on a hot streak right now,” Rustand said. “We’re really playing as a team.”

@Sabino_Hoops standout Blake Rustand came up big at the line tonight

— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) December 12, 2018

Catalina Foothills (7-3, 4-3) led 12-8 after the first quarter and 29-15 at the half, with Carson James and Hayden Moser combining for 18 points, but the Sabercats slowly chipped away at the lead and the Falcons held a slim 37-32 lead with 2:57 left in the third after Gutierrez scored back-to-back buckets.

Trace Comeau responded with five straight points to put the Falcons back up 42-32 with 1:45 left but Saenz hit a 3 as the buzzer sounded to cut the Falcon lead down to 42-35 heading into the final quarter. Rustand hit his 3 to cut the lead down to 42-38 but James scored quickly to make it 44-38.

Gutierrez hit a couple of free throws but Comeau scored to keep the lead at 46-40 but Gutierrez scored again and made a free throw to cut the lead down to 46-43 with 6:08 left in the game. The Falcons would rebuild a 50-45 lead with 4:52 left but Saenz hit a 3 to cut the lead down to 50-48 and then Katz scored to tie the game up at 50 with 3:22 left and he added a free throw on the play to put Sabino up 51-50. It was the first time the Sabercats held the lead since an early 4-3 advantage.

Gutierrez put the Sabercats up 53-50 with 1:54 left and Cody Blumenthal scored to make it 53-52 with 1:19 left but the Sabercats ran the clock down and Rustand hit two free throws to make it 55-52 with 7.5 seconds left.

The Falcons came down for one final play but a turnover led to a game-clinching free throw by Rustand for the 56-52 final. James led Catalina Foothills with 13 points, Cameau added 11, Moser had 10 and Menaugh finished with eight.

The loss comes on the heels of a 46-41 setback at Cholla last Friday but the three losses suffered by the Falcons to date are not counted towards region standings.

“We’re struggling right now, playing up and down,” junior guard Charlie Curtis said. “By the end of the year we’ll have it.”

Catalina Foothills standout Charlie Curtis talks hoops

— Andy Morales (@AZPreps365Andy) December 12, 2018

Catalina Foothills will open up 4A Kino Region play at Canyon del Oro (5-7, 4-3) Thursday night. The Falcons will play in the Visit Mesa Basketball Challenge over the winter break, starting on Dec. 26. Sabino still has a few non-region games before the break and the Sabercats will host Pueblo (2-9, 1-5) Friday night. The Sabercats will host their own tournament over the break.