Nothing has been easy this year for the Yosemite High varsity basketball team (1-19, 1-5 NSL). Now in the heart of North Sequoia League play last week did not get any easier.
On Jan. 29 Yosemite went on the road to visit the Lions of Kerman (9-8, 2-2). The Badgers dug a huge hole in the first quarter spotting Kerman a 22-6 lead and the Lions would coast to a 60-40 win. Kerman opened the game scoring 16 straight points and holding the Badgers scoreless for six minutes. Although Kerman did most of their damage in the paint, they were hitting most of their shots -- inside and out.
Badger point guard Luke Blate led Yosemite on a 6-0 run, but Kerman answered trading buckets with the Badgers. The Lions were up 33-16 at the half with Ramon Chavez leading all scorers with 16.
The Lions poured it on both offensively and defensively. Yosemite started matching the Lions scoring but needed defensive stops. They didn't get them. A Chavez three-pointer at the end of the third had Kerman up 49-27. Yosemite closed out the game on a 10-3 run.
Chavez led Kerman with 27 including five 3-pointers. Blate led YHS with 14. Ty Grant had 10. The rest of YHS scoring: Jayson Lee 7; Jared Wood 3; Jensen Davis 2; Bobby Magee 2; Carson Conti 2.
Chieftains visit Oakhurst
The co-league leaders and Badger rival Sierra Chieftains (13-8, 4-1) visited Oakhurst last Friday. It was a fun evening for basketball fans who were treated to four games (JV and varsity girls and JV and varsity boys). The Badgers boys varsity played Sierra close,
but the Chieftains dug deep pulling away in the fourth quarter to take a 50-41 victory.
Both teams shot poorly, especially in the first half. Badger reserves stepped forward and played valuable minutes. YHS defenders knew they would have their hands full stopping Sierra senior guard Casey Blunt who scored 47 points in a recent game against Washington Union. For most of the night the Badgers did a good job throwing a number of defenders at Blunt, holding him to 14 points on the night.
Sierra jumped off to a 13-9 lead with Blunt scoring six of Sierra's points. Sierra had a 23-16 lead midway through the second period, but unlike their first meeting, a 71-46 win at Sierra, Yosemite kept it close. Blate scored five points and Ty Grant nailed a three-pointer and YHS was down only 28-25 at the half. Grant hit two first half threes to lead the Badgers with 10 at the half.
Blunt led Sierra with 10, but he earned all of his points. Badger freshman Jayson Lee put a lot of defensive pressure on Blunt who is averaging 20 points a game in his last five games.
Both teams shot poorly in the third period. Yosemite missed easy buckets in the paint. Sierra didn't faire much better scoring only seven points in the period. Going into the fourth Sierra held a 35-30 lead.
Sierra averages 65 points per game in the NSL. For three periods the Chieftains were flat. Could the Badgers pull off a major upset? Something had to change. Blunt went to work in the fourth quarter, getting four straight steals on the way to a 7-0 Sierra run. Sierra's Brent Smith started hitting from beyond the arc and suddenly Sierra was up 45-30 with 5:35 left.
Yosemite's Ty Grant nailed three 3-pointers to keep the Badgers close. Sierra's Smith led all scorers with 21. The Chieftains made seven 3-pointers, most in the second half. For Yosemite, senior Grant hit five 3-pointers on the way to a season high 19 points to lead Badger scorers. Blate had 10. Yosemite finished the game with six 3-pointers.
If Sierra is going to win the NSL, it will be on the road. Its Feb. 12 matchup with Washington Union in Easton should determine the NSL title. Sierra closes out the NSL campaign with a tough road game at Chowchilla on Feb 15. Sierra beat Chowchilla 57-55 at home in the first matchup.
The Badger boys JV team (6-11, 2-4) avenged an earlier two point loss to Sierra with a last second win. Zak Clayton sank a 3-pointer with no time left on the clock to give Yosemite the 39-37 victory.
The Badgers played a swarming defense during the game combining for 26 steals -- Sam Williams and Kade Cross had six steals each, Dylan Rounsville and Chase Mauerer had five and Clayton had four.
Kade Cross finished with a double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds. Mauerer and Rounsville had nine and Clayton finished with eight points.
The team played Tuesday at Liberty High School. In their first match-up, the Badgers won 38-29.