The Yosemite High boy's basketball team (2-20, 2-6 NSL) traveled to Madera Ranchos to face the North Sequoia League cellar-dwelling Liberty Hawks (9-13, 0-8) Feb. 6, and like round one, the Badgers were victorious, 53-47.
The game pitted Liberty's size and strong inside game against the speed and quickness of the Badgers.
"It was a great win," said coach Steve Lopez. "We have not been consistent all season. I think we had good carry over from the Sierra game. We had a great start, got behind, but played good defense in the end to pull out this win."
Yosemite point guard Luke Blate was the game's higher scorer with 19 points.
The Badgers jumped off to a 19-10 lead in a first quarter in which Yosemite could do no wrong. It was the highest single quarter scoring output this season. Guard Ty Grant was still on fire after his Feb. 1 season high outburst (19 points) against Sierra. He hit two 3-points and Blate added another in the first quarter.
Liberty came back in the second period and pounded the ball inside to 6-foot-9 junior Stetson Woods. The Hawks went on a 9-2 run while Yosemite shooters went cold. The Badgers were outscored 12-3 in the period but clung to a 27-22 lead at the half. Blate and Grant had 12 and 5 respectively in the half.
Liberty kept pounding it on the inside in the third quarter with Woods. Yosemite countered Woods with the duo of Dillon Moran and Jared Woods and for a while it worked. Yosemite's Derek Jenkins and Grant hit key 3- pointers and Carson Conti added another key bucket to keep the Hawks at bay, but toward the end of the third quarter, the combination of Liberty's inside game and poor shooting from the Badgers allowed Liberty to take the lead for the first time.
With the momentum shifting, the Hawks went into the fourth quarter leading 40-38.
Both teams traded baskets early in the fourth. A Moran bucket closed the gap to 45-55 Liberty. After a 3-pointer by Liberty, Moran fed Grant for a quick layup to close to 47-46.
As Liberty inbounded, Conti made an acrobatic steal and pass to Aaron Bausch for a quick layup. It was a big momentum shift and Yosemite had a 48-47 lead they would not relinquish.
After both teams missed scoring opportunities, Liberty coach Ken Vossler was hit with a technical foul after disputing a foul. It set up Blate, YHS's top foul shooter at the free-throw line and Blate delivered. The 5-foot7 senior hit three of four free-throws to give Yosemite the lead 51-47. Blate hit two more free throws to end the game and give the team its second league win of the season.
Yosemite: Blate led all scorers with 19. Grant added 10, hitting three 3-pointers. Moran had 9 points and played tough defense down low. Woods had six. Aaron Bausch, four, Jenkins, three, Conti, who played solid defense the entire game, had two points.
Liberty: Woods (season average 18.6), held to 13, Anthony Garcia, 12.
The Badgers placed the always tough Panthers of Washington Union (19-9, 6-1) last Friday on the road with Union dismantling the Badgers 69-43.
Union led at the half 34-20 and outscored Yosemite in the second half 35-23.
Wood was the only Badger to score in double figures with 10. Blate added nine and Moran had six.
Union's Shakor Major led all scores with 19 with William Blue adding 16.
Sierra and Washington Union still lead the North Sequoia League standings with 6-1 records. Both teams are ranked by the Fresno Bee. Sierra is No. 2 and Union No. 3 in D-IV. The two teams played Tuesday in Tollhouse for the league championship. Results were not available at press time. No matter the outcome both teams are peaking for the playoffs, but had close calls with Chowchilla and Kerman last week.