After winning three games last week and six of the last eight, this year’s version of the Yosemite varsity boys basketball team is poised to make a run at a North Sequoia League title.
The Badger boys haven’t won league since the 1998-99 season, when they played in the Central Sequoia League.
Why so optimistic? It’s because the Badgers are talented, they have played a tough pre-league schedule, are getting used to winning, and doing it with strong contributions from everyone.
YHS is 11-6, the most wins since winning 13 games in the 2011/12 season.
This team is young. The starting five includes one senior, two juniors, and two sophomores. The 12-man roster includes five sophomores, six juniors, and one senior. The team is getting better weekly. Four players are highly ranked in their respective categories in the Central Section.
According to Maxpreps.com, senior center Kade Cross is ranked No. 1 in the Central Section in blocked shots (71), and is No. 7 in rebounds per game (8.9).
Cross will become only the third player in the school’s boys program to make the career 1,000 Point Club. He only needs 54 points to enter the elite club along with Travis Ressler (1,028), and Rael Lang (1,431).
As one of the all-time best big men in Badger history, Cross broke the school career rebounding record last week against Fresno Christian. With a current total of 629, he surpassed Todd Hood who had 619.
Junior forward Peter McLean is No. 5 in rebounds (nearly 10 pga). Sophomore guard Cannon Eames is No. 5 in steals (45), No. 6 in 3-point field goals at 43, and junior point guard Tristan Eames is ranked No. 15 in assists per game (3.3).
McLean will also be on the all-time record board pulling down 22 rebounds in one game last week, one short of the school record set in 1986 by Scott Perkins. The inside game of Cross and McLean is easily the NSL’s best.
From a scoring standpoint Cross (14.7 pga), Tristan Eames (12.6), Cannon Eames (10.2), and Peter McLean (9.2) can carry the load on any given night. As far as guard combos go the Eames brothers are tops in the NSL.
Count on Cannon to own all 3-point shooting records at YHS. When Cannon is on, the YHS offense can be unstoppable. On defense, Cannon will also be the all-time leader in steals.
Still, even with the statistical rankings, YHS has a tough road ahead in the NSL. For the past 20 years, the road to the NSL championship went through Washington Union in Easton. This year is different. Perennial favorite Washington Union is currently 2-10. The mighty Panthers, the most successful high school basketball program in the Central Section is down.
I have so much respect for the Panther program and have seen years of league, CIF, and state titles. But these aren’t the old Panthers, so a note to the rest of the NSL - win now while you can.
“The NSL is wide open this year,” Eames said. “Besides Kerman, Liberty will be tough and you can never count out Union despite their record. We want a league title and we are ready to compete for it.”
Talented starting Badger forward Ben Negley will miss the first half of league play with a foot injury. He will be ably replaced by Ty Peterson. Peterson is a high-energy defensive specialist. He can shoot and produce double-digit rebounds.
The bench play will be crucial to getting a NSL title. Bench players Brian Mularkey, Trevor Peter, Harry Thearle, Noah West, and Alex Williams have all contributed.
Yosemite faces rival Sierra to open up the NSL season this Friday night at home. If you haven’t been to a game in a while you need to go. You have the opportunity to see all four teams play (boys and girls JV and varsity).
With the students, the home crowd, and the always entertaining YHS pep band, the Badger gym will be rocking like old times. Sierra fans are also very vocal - it’s definitely like a playoff atmosphere. It’s one of the oldest rivalries in the NSL and in my opinion the best.
For YHS fans, this is a team worth supporting. There is a legitimate shot at winning a long-awaited league title. With four of five starters prominently ranked in section statistical categories, you will be watching boys basketball talent that hasn’t been seen since the 2006-07 season. That team, lead by Bradly Wilkinson, Larry Ramirez, and Justin Smith won 18 games, and made noise in the playoffs. That’s the team that ended Unions’ state record of 125 consecutive league wins, beating them in front of a Badger crowd on Jan. 19, 2007, 61-54.