The Yosemite High basketball team (11-6) plays at home Friday - a North Sequoia League opener with rival and nemesis Sierra (3-9). This year Yosemite has the overall talent to make a run for the league title.
The Chieftains were 9-18 last year and 2-8 in the NSL. The Badgers were 6-19, and 2-8 in league play. Last year YHS and Sierra split their two league games. Both teams won at home: Sierra 63-35 and YHS 57-45.
The Badgers are 6-2 in their last eight games and the Badgers are playing with confidence.
Sierra has had a strong basketball program over the years, but this season is proving challenging, and the team has lost three of its last four games. Graduation hit the Chieftains hard and depth is an issue for Anthony Patino’s team this year.
Sierra is led by a trio of players. Senior guard Tim Lee and senior forward Clayton Ford average 11.2 and 10.1 points per game respectively, and junior guard Harry Blunt is averaging 10 points per game.
As a team, Sierra averages 57 points per game, while giving up 64. Yosemite is averaging 59 points per game, while giving up 51.
YHS comes into league play with the best overall record at 11-6. Kerman is 9-7 including a 63-58 victory over YHS on Dec. 11. Liberty-Madera Ranchos is 8-8. Chowchilla is 6-12 and Sierra is 3-9.
As is the case during league play, all Friday games will feature all four of the school’s teams. Game times are girls JV 3:30 p.m. - boys JV 5 p.m. - girls varsity 6:30 p.m. - boys varsity 8 p.m.
The Badgers continue league play Jan. 20 at Liberty, and Jan. 22 at Washington Union in Easton.
YHS coming off three wins last week
Yosemite’s 11 wins, prior to entering league play, is the most by a YHS team since the 2011-12 season when the Badgers won 13 games.
On Jan. 5, the Badgers went to Hanford and beat Sierra Pacific 62-44, squeaked by Tranquility (11-6) at home 54-49 on Jan. 7, and went on the road to defeat Fresno Christian 74-41 on Jan. 8. YHS is playing strong defensively, allowing an average of 44 points in the three wins.
“We like where we are,” said second year head coach Aaron Eames. “Our preseason was a challenge. We won 11 games, nearly won a tournament, and played good competition. We were close even in our losses. We want to get better every game.”
The Badgers jumped out to a 15-8 lead against the Golden Bears (2-9) in the first quarter and led 36-19 by halftime. The Badgers connected for five 3-pointers, four from guard Cannon Eames. Eames led YHS with 17 points, 8 rebounds, two assists, and two steals. It may have been his most complete game of the season.
Center Kade Cross had a usual solid game with a double-double, 14 points and 13 rebounds, along with four blocked shots.
Point guard Tristan Eames had 12 points, and led the team with four steals. Power forward Peter McLean continues to bolster a strong Badger front line, contributing nine points and eight rebounds.
Reserve players Brian Mularkey, Trevor Peter, and Alex Williams combined for 15 rebounds. Overall, YHS had 50 rebounds, one of the highest totals of the season.
After 31 point lead Badgers beat Tranquility by five
Tranquility was an emotional game for two reasons: the home opener and retribution. Tranquility beat the Badgers 64-53 on Dec. 19, in the championship game of the Hawk Classic Tournament at Liberty High.
Last week’s game was a tale of two halves. Tranquility couldn’t seem to buy a basket, or hang onto a loose ball in the first half. At one point YHS had a 31-point lead.
Yosemite played its best first half of the season, with a lot of energy and a strong defense, leading after the first quarter 19-11 - the highest quarterly output this season for YHS. Tiger guard Noel Iniguez, who torched YHS for 37 points in December was limited to three first half points.
But in the second half, Tranquility got hot, and Yosemite got cold, as the Tigers trimmed Yosemite’s lead from 31 to just five in the closing seconds of the game. A bucket and block by Cross saved the game for the Badgers - 54-49.
Cross led the Badgers with yet another double-double - 14 points, and 10 rebounds, plus six blocks. McLean also had a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds. Cannon Eames had 13 points, and Tristan Eames had nine points and five assists. Cannon, Tristan, and McLean each had three steals, and Ty Peterson grabbed seven rebounds.
Badgers maul the Eagles
Last Friday, the Badgers went to Fresno to play the Eagles of Fresno Christian High (4-0), and came home with a 31-point win, 74-41. It was the largest margin of victory this season for YHS.
YHS jumped out to a 13-9 lead, and then scored 26 points while holding the Eagles to just eight. YHS went into halftime up 39-17.
A season-high 29 point Badger outburst in the fourth quarter allowed YHS to seal a 33 point win.
Cross nearly pulled off a triple-double with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and a season-high eight blocked shots. According to maxpreps.com, he is averaging 4.2 blocks per game, ranking him No. 1 in the Central Section.
His 20 rebounds gives him the all time career rebounding record at YHS with 629. The old record was held by Todd Hood with 619.
McLean had a monster game on the boards, pulling down 22 rebounds (16 on defense), which tied him for second all-time at YHS for rebounds in a single game next to Tim Thomas’s 1982 mark. McLean also had 14 points and four steals in his finest performance as a varsity starter.
Cannon Eames had 16 points, five steals, and five rebounds. Tristan Eames added 10 points, and Peterson had a season-high 13 rebounds.