Poor shooting and a lack of a consistent inside game by the Yosemite High girls basketball team lead to a 48-38 defeat Feb. 15 at home to co-league champs Kerman.
The Badgers got the No. 6 seed in the Central Section D-II playoffs with a bye on Tuesday, and will face No. 3 Monache High of Porterville at 7 p.m., Feb. 23. The teams played early in the season with Monache prevailing 49-36.
Shooting a lackluster and uncharacteristic 12 of 58 (20.6%) from the field against Kerman, including 0 for 10 from 3-point range, the Badgers (17-11, 8-1 NSL) had their run for an undefeated league season stopped one game short by the Lady Lions.
In the previous nine NSL games, the Lady Badgers had the leading shooting percentage in D-II of the Central Section, at 65%.
Yosemite shot 14 of 24 from the free throw line, below their usual percentage while Kerman was 71% on free throws and made eight 3-point shots.
For Kerman’s Head Coach Corinne DenHartog, a 2010 graduate of Buchanan High in Clovis, sharing a league title in her first season as a head coach was beyond exciting.
“It’s almost beyond words,” DenHartog said. “I’m so happy for my girls, especially my six seniors who all had phenomenal games tonight.”
DenHartog said in the earlier loss to Yosemite, only four players scored and senior Kaitlyn Guizar did not score a single point.
“We also shot twice as many free throws in the second game with a 73% average versus 55% in the first game,” DenHartog said.
In addition to the six 3-pointers, a big difference in the game was the clutch free throw shooting of Bre Hurt, who hit 11 of 14. Hurt also played on Kerman’s varsity volleyball team that was 0-10 in NSL play this past season. She is the daughter of Kerman’s boys varsity basketball team, Tim Hurt.
For Coach Gary Blate, who has more than 500 career basketball wins to his credit, his Yosemite girls team has now shared or won outright the league title 13 of the past 15 seasons.
Last Wednesday’s game against Kerman started out slow, with the first score coming after four minutes of play, when Kerman’s 5-foot-2 guard Sierra Perez hit a 3-point shot. She went on to hit two more threes and scored 14 points in the game.
After a free throw by Yosemite’s Grace Fries, Kerman went on a 7 point run to take an early 10-1 lead, the the Badgers came back with the first quarter ending with Kerman ahead 12-9.
The Badgers were behind throughout the first half, but closed to a 32-29 deficit at the end of the third quarter before falling back in the final period.
In addition to Perez, two other Kerman players scored double figures, Guizar had 14, including three 3-pointers, to lead all scorers and freshman Hurt had 13.
The only Badger in double figures was Grace Fries with 10 points, while Siena Oswald had 9 points and 16 rebounds. Sophomore Sophie McGoldrick also had 9 points.
Senior Carly Baldwin scored 6 as did sophomore Hailey Rich, including 4 of 4 free throws. Sophomore Lilly Graffigna had four points, three assists, two steals and two rebounds.
With the leading four scorers only sophomores, the Yosemite girls overcame early season struggles to win its own tournament in January, and then ran off nine straight wins in league to win a share of the North Sequoia League Championship and advance to the Central Section D-II playoffs.
Although the Badger JV team took an early 11-1 lead over Kerman, the Lions defense allowed the Badgers just 8 points over the next three quarters and came back to win the game 39-19.
High scorer for the JV team was Keylee Andersen with 11. Lily Webb had five and Karina Barnet had 3. Brianna Woudstra had a game high 16 for Kerman.
The Feb. 10 game with Chowchilla was canceled because of flash flood warnings and was officially called a ‘no contest.’ Yosemite had beaten Chowchilla 60-31 earlier in the year.
“I like our chances at Monache - we are much improved and learned a valuable lesson with the loss to Kerman,” Blate said. “The game had a playoff atmosphere and if you don’t prepare and bring your best game, your season is going to end. Getting the bye gives us the opportunity to work hard in practice and that loss gives motivation not only for the playoffs but for next season.”
The winner of the Yosemite-Monache game will likely play the No. 2 seed Bakersfield High at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28 in Bakersfield. Kerman received the No. 3 seed in D-IV.
The D-II semifinals will be played at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 and the championship game will be played at 6 p.m. at Fresno’s Selland Arena on March 3.