With a number of players just off a long football season, the Yosemite High School boys basketball (1-4) season is underway.
The Badgers had a 16-11, 7-3 North Sequoia League season last year, reaching the Central Section playoffs for the second straight season. At the end of last season there were many who said the team would challenge for a NSL title this season, but the program has gone through some big changes since then.
First, YHS will be led by new Head Coach Erik Peterson. Peterson was an assistant to former head coach Aaron Eames who resigned at the end of last season. Peterson has been a head coach of JV girls and assisted Gary Blate for a number of years. He will be assisted by former Badger hoop stars, Andy and Charley Medley, who will coach the JV team, with Luke Blate guiding the freshman.
Peterson inherits a challenging situation.
“Our program is a work-in-progress,” Peterson said. “We have few players with a lot of varsity playing time. Many of our players are just coming off a long football season and are not in ‘basketball playing shape’ yet.”
Injuries and a transfer have have already hurt the team. Senior starting center Ben Negley suffered an arm injury during football season that will prevent his participation in basketball this year. Senior shooting guard and last year’s leading scorer Cannon Eames is nursing a tendon injury, and starting power forward Tyler Matyshock transferred to Sonora High School.
The Badgers bring a corps of juniors who captured an NSL JV title last season, including Jaeden Peirce who will be at point guard for the Badgers. Eames will also handle point duties at times.
“Jaeden did a great job for the JV team last season,” Peterson said. “A key for Jaeden will be adjusting to the speed of varsity competition.”
Eames and junior Paul Antonis will be the shooting guards. Eames, who has started on the varsity team since his freshman year, led the team in scoring last season. He He’s currently tied for No. 1 for the school record of most 3-point shots made in a game (8), No. 2 for career 3-point shots made (131), behind Justin Smith (140 - 2005-07), and No. 3 for 3-point shots made in a season (59), with Smith No. 1 (75). on the schools secured his place in YHS history as a leading all-time 3-point specialist. Antonis was the leading 3-point specialist for the JV team last season.
Senior Ty Peterson will play at small forward. Peterson is a three-year varsity starter but was injured virtually all last season.
“Ty is a leader on the floor,” Peterson said. “He is working hard to get into basketball playing shape.”
Power forward duties will be shared between senior Brian Mularkey and Oroville transfer junior Troy Fite. Mularkey suffered a season-ending injury early last season.
“It is great to have Brian back,” Coach Peterson said. “He has worked hard to overcome a tough injury,” Peterson said. “Troy has already had a positive impact so we feel pretty good with him at the four spot.”
Athletic junior Christian Rold will handle the center duties. A solid defender, Rold has big shoes to fill in Negley’s absence. Junior Hayden Lewis will also be in the mix at center. Lewis had effective performances in the paint last season with the JV program.
Key backups include 3-point specialist junior Dylan Allen and guard John Nisar. Nisar was a key contributor on JV last season but is also coming off an major injury. Junior Jaroe Solon will also contribute key minutes.
The Badgers defeated Tranquility 62-58 to open the season on Nov. 28, with Eames scoring 18 points and Fite 15. Lewis added 11 points and 8 rebounds, and Peterson contributed 9 rebounds and 7 assists.
Yosemite then went 0-3 in the Kerman Invitational Tournament, losing 61-46 to Roosevelt, 82-38 to Kerman, and 40-38 to Parlier. The Badgers played in the tourney without Eames who was injured.
Antonis led YHS in scoring at Kerman with 12 points, had 16 against Roosevelt shooting 5 of 8 from beyond the arc and 14 in the Parlier game. Lewis had 10 points and 5 rebounds, and Mularkey and Peterson each had 7.
The Badgers will play Roosevelt at home on Tuesday - Freshman 4:30 p.m. - JV 6 - and Varsity 7:30.
The Badgers travel to Minarets Friday with the JV teams playing at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at 7:30.