The Yosemite High basketball team (4-14, 0-3 North Sequoia League ) played their first league games at home last week, losing to The Liberty High Hawks (9-8, 2-1) 71-58 on Jan. 20, and to Washington Union Panthers (11-0, 3-0 ), the perennial league champs, 55-35 on Jan. 23.
The Panthers are supposed to be in a rebuilding year as Coach Tony Peterson lost seven seniors from a 27-6 campaign last season. After a slow start, the Panthers are on a roll, undefeated in league play. The Panthers started the season at 1-4. Since Jan. 7, the Panthers are 7-2 and have now won four straight.
Union jump started to a 5-1 lead. The Badgers went inside with Cross scoring two buckets. After a three-pointer by Cannon Eames and another basket by Cross YHS took a 10-7 lead. Union went on a 5-0 run to close out an exciting first quarter leading 15-10.
Union tried to pull away jumping out to a 22-13 lead with 3:40 left before halftime. Coach Aaron Eames called a timeout and the Badgers closed to 22-16 with another Cannon Eames 3-pointer. Union went into the locker room up 24-19 at the half.
Yosemite stayed close for most of the third quarter. Aided by a vocal home crowd and Francisco Marquez’s pep band, the Badgers closed to within three (26-23) with 4:50 to go in the third. Point guard Tristan Eames drove the lane and dished out assists to Peter McLean and Cross. The crowd was in it and sensed an upset, but it was not to be.
After Coach Peterson called a time out, Panther’s pressure defense took its toll late in the second half. The Panthers put together a 13-4 run toward the end of the third quarter, going up 39-27, and maintaining a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game.
“We had a goal to defend and keep Union under 50,” Eames said. “We just didn’t get some of our shots to fall in the second half. It’s going to come together.”
Overall, Yosemite shot only 28% from the field (13 of 46).
Union won the JV game, 43-30.
Yosemite’s Kade Cross had 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots. Cannon Eames added 11 points (with three 3-pointers), Tristan Eames had 5 points and 3 assists, while Peter McLean had 5 points, and 6 rebounds.
Cross scores 33 against Liberty
Despite outscoring the Hawks in three quarters, including a 12-11 lead after one period, it was a 25-6 second quarter run by Liberty that put the Badgers in a hole that was hard to overcome. The Badgers outscored Liberty 19-15, and 21-20 in the third and fourth quarters. .
The Badger’s junior center, Kade Cross, matched his season high with 33 points. Cross has scored over 30 points in three games this season, and is averaging close to 20 points per game. As of the end of last week, his 339 points ranks him No. 7 in scoring in the Central Section, and No. 3 in D-IV behind Colin Slater, a junior at Immanuel High in Reedley, with 366 points, and Kilon Bradfor, a senior at Granuite Hills High in Porterville with 455 points according to MaxPreps.com.
Cross also pulled down 13 rebounds against Liberty, and is averaging 8.4 rebounds per game.
The Yosemite JV squad (8-9, 1-2) fared better, beating Liberty 51-38. Sophomore Harry Thearle had a season-high 19 points. Ty Peterson 9, and Ben Negley had 8.
Interim head Coach Aaron Eames is still very optimistic about the season.
“We are improving every game,” Eames said. “Against Liberty, we had a poor second quarter. We played even every other period. With Union, we played pretty even for three quarters against a really athletic and talented team. I think it was a strong performance. Even though we lost, it may have been the best game we’ve played since I started. We are definitely getting more confident every week.”
Since taking over for Stephen Lopez on Jan. 13, Eames has gone 1-4. Eames took over at the start of NSL league play. In league play, the Badgers have played three straight teams with winning records: Sierra (8-8), Liberty (9-8), and Union (11-9).
Yosemite plays Kerman next week. The Lions (15-5, 2-1) are the #2 ranked D-IV team in the Valley according to the Bee’s Jan. 22 Central Section basketball rankings. “Our team has yet to play a solid 4 quarters,” Eames said. “ We continue to work on conditioning and fundamentals. When we put it all together, and we will, we are going to win games.”