Micah Pollard didn’t waste a lot of time or words. How good is the Foss High basketball backcourt duo of Pollard and Demetrius Crosby II?
“Best in the state,” Pollard said. “We got that.”
What do you think, Crosby?
“Yep, I think it is,” he said.
“Me and him, we have the same mindset in everything. We attack everything, we have heart. That’s why we’re the best duo in the state.”
They certainly aren’t the only weapons these defending state champions have. But on Tuesday night, Crosby scored 20 points and Pollard added 16 and led Foss’ hounding full-court press in the third-ranked Falcons’ 66-48 home win over No. 6 Fife.
Foss (12-3; 10-0 2A SPSL Mountain) has not lost to a 2A team since moving down from the 3A classification before the start of last season – that’s 33 consecutive wins over 2A teams.
Crosby is a returning starter and team leader in this championship lineup, with he and his father bringing Foss its only two state titles in school history. Demetrius Crosby Sr. was the team’s top player on the 1999-2000 team.
But Pollard has been the biggest energy boost. He was a sharpshooting role player last season, but now does a bit of everything, including complementing Crosby with a quiet, by-example leadership, Foss coach Mike Cocke’ said.
“Micah is one of the most competitive kids I’ve ever had,” Cocke’ said. “He just wants to win every drill, every game everything we do.”
He came off the bench, but Pollard was an instigator last year, when Foss had Roberto Gittens, The News Tribune’s All-Area player of the year who is now at Southern Idaho, a junior college (though he was headed to Washington State University before he found out he didn’t meet all of the NCAA’s academic eligibility requirements).
“Micah just wasn’t ready last year,” Cocke’ said. “So he came off the bench. But he was the guy last year in practice who would push and kind of get under Berto’s skin and push the team and do all that stuff. He was really excited for this opportunity and he’s really made the most of it.”
He and Crosby double as Foss’ leading rebounders, too. Crosby entered Tuesday’s game averaging 20.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Pollard was averaging 19.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists.
Foss started Tuesday’s game on a 9-0 run, with Fife (13-3; 8-2) not scoring its first basket until halfway through the first quarter. That’s what Crosby and Pollard pushing Foss’ 100-mph pace can do to teams. Foss had a 34-21 lead at halftime and led 47-27 just before the start of the final quarter.
This comes after the Falcons won 99-91 after two overtimes against Fife in their first meeting on Dec. 8 – when Foss trailed by double digits in the fourth quarter and by five with a minute to play.
“We want the other team to speed up, too,” Crosby said. “That’s what we strive for is transition, transition, transition. That’s what we thrive on.”
Fife coach Mark Schelbert said Foss is the real deal.
“Foss is just so athletic and quick. It gives us physical problems matching up with and staying in front of them,” he said. “They are skilled and they run their stuff well and they are well-coached. There is really no weakness for them that you can isolate and take advantage of.”
And Foss hasn’t just proven it can handle the best of 2A. It was leading unbeaten and 3A No. 2 Lincoln at halftime before losing on Dec. 1. And it was up by double digits against 3A No. 4 O’Dea before losing on Dec. 22.
“We just want to show everybody that it doesn’t matter if we’re 2A,” Pollard said. “We can still compete with the top teams.”
With Gittens and Donald Scott graduating from last year’s team, that left Foss much smaller. So Cocke’ demanded Crosby and Pollard help push its blazing pace.
And they are executing that much better now than at the start of the season.
“We got a lot quicker this year, and that allows us to play at a pace that is really fast for everybody we play,” Cocke’ said. “Sometimes, as a coach, you got to just let them go, even though you know there’s going to be times when you throw it away or you mess it up or whatever.”
But that’s been rare. Crosby, the 2A SPSL Mountain’s defensive player of the year in football and an NCAA Division I football recruit, is a strong finisher around the basket and an exceptional rebounding guard who Cocke’ will play inside and out.
Foss got a little bit of foreign aid in the height department, too. Max Marlier, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound senior, started his first game of the season Tuesday night. He walked into a Foss open gym in the fall after having moved from Belgium.
Marlier, or the “Big Waffle,” as Cocke’ calls him, scored seven of his nine points in the first quarter.
“Well, if he’s a 6-7, 270 guy around the rim, get him the basketball,” Cocke’ said with a smile.
In all, Cocke’ is having a lot of fun with this group.
“I am, I am,” he laughed. “I just don’t think a lot of people expected us to be this good. I don’t think a lot of people expected us to be winning again. We’re here every day and we’re working and we know the kids – so I guess we don’t think like everybody else. ...
“And they don’t lack confidence, that’s for sure. We tell our guys to believe in each other, believe in themselves. Every time they step on the floor, they think they are going to win.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
NO. 6 FIFE
NO. 3 FOSS
Fife: Andre Sawyer 4, Lavelle Alexander 8, Gannon Ginnis 4, Malachi Afework 6, Cooper Schelbert 3, Brian Mitchell 3, Eli Graham 18, Bryson Williams 2
Foss: D’Von Santa Cruz 5, Demetrius Crosby 20, Micah Pollard 16, Damani Kelly 6, Kenzel Massey 9, Isaiah Jackson 1, Max Marlier 9.