With four players scoring in double figures, the Yosemite High boys basketball team (10-7, 1-0 North Sequoia League) began its quest for the first league title since 1998-1999 last Friday beating arch-rival Sierra (3-9, 0-1 NSL) 59-41.
The Chieftains are led by new Head Coach Ryan Watt, who inherits a team with a rich basketball tradition that includes a Central Section playoff appearance in D-V last season. Watt was a member of the Bullard High team that won a Valley Championship in 1996 and has coached in the Clovis system.
Sierra still has solid weapons including senior guard Harry Blunt, who along with brothers Jake and Casey have led the Chieftains to numerous playoff runs.
This was a rare game of balanced scoring for the Badgers. After playing a sluggish game against Fresno Christian, YHS responded with an all-around team effort against Sierra. Cannon and Tristan Eames led YHS with 14 and 13 points respectively. Peter McLean and Ben Negley added 11 and 10.
In the first quarter Blunt hit the first of his five 3-point shots. Yosemite’s Noah Allen responded with a 3-pointer of his own. From there Yosemite went on a 14-0 run and led 18-5 after one. After building a 24-8 lead, Harry Blunt hit two more 3’s and kept Sierra from an early blowout. An exciting second quarter had YHS up 31-17.
Buckets in the paint by Negley gave YHS a 38-20 advantage. A 3-pointer by Allen as the buzzer sounded gave YHS their biggest lead, 43-22 at the end of the third quarter.
Sierra did not quit and made a game of it in the fourth quarter, outscoring YHS 15-5 and were down only 48-37 with 4:18 to play. But YHS put the game away on a 9-2 run with baskets by Cannon Eames and Negley.
As a team YHS shot 31% connecting on 21 of 61 attempts. McLean finished with 18 rebounds with Negley pulling down 16. To date, McLean has 640 rebounds in his three-year YHS varsity career, and is chasing the career rebound record of 781 held by Kade Cross.
Cannon Eames led YHS with 7 steals. Tristan Eames led YHS with four assists and 5 steals. Harry Blunt led Sierra with 16 points. Tristan Wilson added 13 for the Chieftains.
Badgers beat Grizzlies 64-55
The Badgers overcame an eight-point third quarter deficit to defeat the Mariposa Grizzlies (13-5, 4-0 Southern League) 64-55 on Jan. 14. The Badgers took over in the fourth quarter outscoring Mariposa 27-10. More than anything the fourth quarter belonged to senior point guard and captain Tristan Eames. With two starters sitting out with four fouls, Eames put the team on his back and scored 14 points in the quarter.
“I just didn’t want to lose this one,” Eames said. “I wanted to push the tempo and drive the lane. It was a good comeback for sure.”
Tristan led all scorers with 24 points. Brother Cannon scored 17 points and hit critical 3-point shots in the pivotal fourth quarter. Combined the Eames brothers scored 41 of Yosemite’s 64 points.
The Badgers knew this wouldn’t be easy. The Grizzlies are coming off a 24-5 2015-2016 season that included a Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 championship. Head coach Bob Jaekle lost a number of key seniors. Still, the Badgers were facing a well-coached Mariposa squad. The Badgers were also coming off an emotional 59-41 win over NSL rival Sierra.
Yosemite jumped out to an 8-2 lead. The Grizzlies fought back going on a 9-0 run. A 3-pointer by forward Noah Allen helped propel YHS to a 16-12 lead. The teams traded buckets early in the second but the Grizzlies went on another 8-0 run led by Grizzly guard Devon Acker-James who scored 14 points in the first half. A 3-point play by Tristan Eames as time ran out kept the Badgers close but Mariposa went into halftime up 29-26.
The third quarter belonged to the Grizzlies. Acker-James hit for 5 points to power another 8-0 Mariposa run. The Grizzly faithful who filled almost half of the YHS gym were vocal. Mariposa had a solid 45-37 advantage going into the fourth.
Tristan and Cannon Eames hit key buckets, played tough defense, and put YHS in the lead 53-50 with two minutes to play.
From there Tristan Eames hit McLean who scored under the basket. Down the stretch Tristan hit four straight free throws to seal the win. He was 7 of 8 from the charity stripe and also led YHS with 5 assists.
Despite being in foul trouble Negley scored 8 points and led YHS with 14 rebounds. Negley had key defensive rebounds and stops and along with McLean (7 points, 3 rebounds) helped YHS win the battle of the boards. Trevor Peter had 4 points and pulled down a season-high 10 rebounds.
Devon Acker-James led Mariposa with 21 points.
Fresno Christian defeats YHS 66-52
The Eagles of Fresno Christian (7-12) overcame a 12-point halftime deficit behind 12 3-point shots, to defeat Yosemite 66-52 on Jan. 11.
The Eagles, of the West Sequoia League, outscored the Badgers 26-6 in the third quarter and 17-11 in the fourth quarter.
The Badgers connected on only 17 of 57 shots (30%). YHS would connect on only 3 of 23 3-point attempts. Cannon Eames led YHS with 28 points. He got little help. No one else would score in double figures for the Badgers. Cannon also had 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
Key backup forward Brian Mularkey scored 2 points but suffered what could be a season-ending knee injury. Mularkey is one of the team’s best 3-point shooters and his absence will be sorely missed.
Trevor Trevino led the Eagles with 17 points including three 3-pointers.
At home friday
On Tuesday the team hosted Liberty-Madera Ranchos (11-8, 1-0 NSL). Score not available at press time. On Friday all the Yosemite basketball teams face Washington Union (4-16, 0-1 NSL) at home. Girls JV at 3:30 p.m. - boys JV 4:45 - girls varsity 6 - boys varsity 7:30.