The Yosemite High varsity basketball team (5-4) continued its strong 2014-15 season start, competing in the 65th annual Kingsburg Lions Tournament Dec. 9-12.
The Badgers went 1-3 overall but had their signature win of the early season with a 58-56 defeat of the hometown Vikings. YHS is already approaching their 2014-15 win total of six, with 19 losses last season.
The eight-team tournament contained two brackets. The Badgers played Madera South, Kingsburg, Kerman, and Coalinga in four days, and all four teams have winning records. The Badgers played some of the toughest teams on their seasonal schedule.
For most of the games, the Badgers had less than nine players available. Still, head coach Aaron Eames was pleased.
“We had one strong performance against Kingsburg and had a chance to win another,” Eames said. “We played tough in a highly-competitive tournament. We never had a full team which happens in holiday tournaments. At the end, we were tired, but we gave it our all. I really like where we are right now.”
Stallions defeat Badgers
YHS started off Dec. 9 with a 64-49 loss against the Stallions of Madera South. MSHS (9-1) won nine straight this season before losing to Selma (7-2) in the tournament final 59-55.
“Madera South was a great test,” Eames said. “They were very athletic. They pressured our possessions and forced a lot of turnovers. They play similar to (North Sequoia League foe) Washington Union.”
Madera South jumped out to a 21-10 lead in the first quarter. YHS committed eight turnovers resulting in 10 points for the Stallions.
In the second quarter the Badgers committed seven more turnovers resulting in eight points. The Stallions scored inside and out connecting on five 3-pointers in the first half. YHS went to halftime down 36-24.
Madera South went on a 13-0 run midway through the third period. Despite two 3-pointers from Badger Cannon Eames and guard Noah West, the Stallions were up 49-31 at the end of the third. It was too much for YHS to overcome. MSHS ended a dominant performance on a 22-9 run to close out YHS.
Junior power forward Peter McLean had a strong game. McLean recoreded a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Center Kade Cross also had a double-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and a season-high seven rebounds. Tristan Eames had 10 points, and Ben Negley eight points, two rebounds, and two assists.
Badgers rebound against Kingsburg
Yosemite got another tough draw, this time the host Vikings of Kingsburg. A solid Central Sequoia League program, the Vikings (2-4) welcomed the Badgers with a loud home crowd. Despite not leading the entire game and overcoming a 10 point first quarter deficit, the Badgers dug deep and pulled out a 58-56 win.
“I think this was our best win of the year,” senior center Cross said. “It was the highlight of the week for sure. We really came together against Kingsburg. We only had seven players and we were tired, but we played together and didn’t quit. You need wins like this to get ready for league.”
Kingsburg jumped out to a 20-10 lead in the first quarter. YHS responded by outscoring Kingsburg 19-10 and went into halftime behind 30-29. Yosemite outscored Kingsburg 29-24 in the crucial second half.
Yosemite had balanced scoring. Guards Tristan and Cannon Eames each had 15 points. Cannon had a game-high five 3-point shots.
McLean followed up with another outstanding game - another double-double a team leading 13 points, 13 rebounds, and three steals. It was McLean’s best overall performance as a varsity starter. Cross had 12 points and nine rebounds. Ty Peterson scored two and Negley one.
YHS edged by Kerman
The Kerman Lions (5-3), led by Anthony Pacheco’s nine 3-pointers (31 points) edged YHS 63-58.
“It was a great game,” Eames said. “We had an emotional win the night before with only seven players. We hung in all the way and had a chance to win it at the end.”
Both teams shot well early on. The game was tied 16-16 at the end of the first, with Kerman leading at half 31-30. Kerman kept a one point lead with a 43-42 lead at the end of the third quarter. The Lions outscored YHS 20-16 to finish the game.
Despite Pacheco’s 31 points it was a strong defensive effort. The Badgers held the Lions’ leading scorer David Rico to 14 points. Rico was averaging a league leading 23 points per game.
“We really focused on limiting Rico,” Cross said. “We out-rebounded Kerman but Pacheco killed us with those threes.”
Cross led YHS with 17 points and had seven rebounds and two blocks. Tristan Eames had 15 points. McLean had seven points and led YHS with 12 rebounds and four steals. Cannon Eames had eight points connecting on two 3-pointers. Noah West had five points.
YHS loses final game to Coalinga
In the final game the Horned Toads of Coalinga defeated the Badgers 61-44. Coalinga (4-4) built a 20-9 lead by the end of the first quarter and led throughout.
“We were tired and had some injuries,” Eames said. “We played two tough games and just couldn’t overcome the first quarter deficit.”
Coalinga led 36-21 at halftime. YHS played evenly in the second half, but couldn’t overcome the Horned Frogs.
“I know we only got one win, but we learned a lot about each other,” Cross said. “We had good contributions from everyone. Even though we got tired at the end we never gave up.”
Tristan Eames led YHS with 13 points and four assists. Eames has scored in double-digits in eight of his nine games this season. Cross had 12 points and led YHS with 10 rebounds. McLean had 10 points and two rebounds.
Liberty High ‘Hawk Classic’ Tournament
The Badgers will get a much needed rest but resume the basketball campaign at the upcoming 10th Annual Hawk Classic Tournament at Liberty High in the Madera Ranchos. The tournament runs Dec. 17-20. Yosemite will play Dos Palos (1-4) Thursday at 4:30 p.m., Firebaugh (2-5) Friday (Time TBD), and Minarets (2-4) Saturday at 11:30 a.m.