Notre Dame ends Sierra Canyon’s regular season with thumping

He squared. He fired from a distance that would even make Stephen Curry raise his eyebrows.

And when Caleb Foster’s three-pointer dropped to end Sherman Oaks Notre Dame’s emphatic 88-61 blowout in Sierra Canyon on Wednesday night, a teammate pretended to stick something in Foster’s ribs. The mood was clear.


Notre Dame earned a spot in Friday’s Mission League tournament championship game against Studio City Harvard-Westlake in Bishop Alemany.

Foster, a preseason transfer from Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy, plays with visible pride. Fire. During the preseason, Notre Dame coach Matt Sargeant recalled the Knights having intrasquad scrimmage when the coach pulled Foster. And the senior guard who went to Duke was outraged.

“That fire – ‘I can’t believe you substituted me, I have to be at every drill’ – that’s it,” Sargeant said.

And the fuel for Foster was there, a head-to-head matchup with Bronny James and Sierra Canyon, James was finally cleared to play after missing five games in a suspension period with a knee injury.

Every great player looks for an extra boost of motivation, Sargeant said. Here was Foster’s: James was named a McDonald’s All-American on January 24th. Foster, who is averaging more points per game and was widely expected to make the final list, was dropped from the list.

“For Caleb, it’s a pretty straight-forward one-to-one of, ‘I’m playing a guy who got my seat, so I have to go out there and show everyone how good I am,'” Sargeant said. “And he did – and then some tonight.”

Foster finished with 20 points on four three-pointers, each more insistent than the last, while Dusty Stromer, senior signing Gonzaga, took the reins in the second half and finished with 21 points. But it was Foster’s last bucket—and a subsequent wave-bye toward the Sierra Canyon bank—that was the lasting image of the night.

It was a dagger, pure and simple. Dagger, in more ways than one – on the night, in the Foster vs. James match… and possibly in the odds in Sierra Canyon’s Open Division?

In a recent injury spell at the Trailblazers that left James and junior top scorer Isaiah Elohim out on crutches with a sprained ankle, they went 2-3 and losses in their last five games to surefire Open teams Harvard. Westlake and Notre Dame. Sierra Canyon has a string of wins against standout national programs but no wins against surefire Open Division teams, which will present some tough decisions for the seeding committee as playoff time progresses. It’s possible that Sierra Canyon will fall into Division 1 for the first time in coach Andre Chevalier’s tenure.

When James came back ready from the lead, he scored seven of Sierra Canyon’s first nine points, smashed a drive away from Notre Dame’s Foster and yelled “Yessir!”

Soon the night turned into a showcase between James and Foster, two of Southern California’s top guards. James finished with 19 points and clapped his hands after every bucket in the first quarter, a rare display of sheer emotion from the normally stoic Sierra Canyon senior. But Foster got going in the second game, faked and resigned for a deep three over Noah Williams of the Trailblazers, resulting in a Trailblazer timeout and a bloated chest from Notre Dame’s point guard.

Stromer and Notre Dame guard Mercy Miller added second-half exclamation points in a dominant win, Stromer buried three three-pointers after the halftime buzzer and Miller dropped a poster dunk on Trailblazers’ AJ Swinton that was so thunderous, that Swinton had no choice but to smile softly when saying, “Damn.”

The Trailblazers just didn’t have second options behind James with Elohim out and Ashton Hardaway enduring a tough night of shooting after a 42-point game the previous day. And with time until Elohim returns before the Open Division game begins, Sierra Canyon may be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Harvard-Westlake advanced to the tournament finals by bouncing from a three-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to a 56-48 win. Brady Dunlap scored 18 points. Jackson Mosley led St. Francis by 20 points. Notre Dame lost to Harvard-Westlake in double overtime the last time the two teams played. And Foster fouled at the end of regulation. Notre Dame ends Sierra Canyon’s regular season with thumping

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