The Yosemite High boys basketball team (4-13) returned to Oakhurst from a post-Christmas tournament in San Diego and were ready to get a couple of wins prior to the opening of North Sequoia League play Friday in Tollhouse against Sierra.
As hard as they tried - it didn’t happen.
YHS hosted Mission Oak (9-7) of Tulare on Jan. 3, in what turned out to be one of the most exciting games this season, the game went to two overtimes before The Hawks emerged with a 88-81 victory over the Badgers.
On Jan. 5 the team traveled to Firebaugh and lost another heartbreaker 79-77.
“We played well in the first half of both games and had leads at halftime,” Badger Coach Erik Peterson said. “We ended up losing in two overtimes to Mission Oak and had a shot to beat Firebaugh at the end. It just didn’t work out.”
After a slow start by both teams YHS took a 12-4 lead from two 3-point shots by Paul Antonis and a 3-pointer by Brian Mularkey. The Hawks answered with a 10-2 run, with the first quarter ending 14-14.14-14 tie.
The Badgers exploded for 29 points in the second quarter as Antonis had two more 3-pointers along with a 3-pointer by Troy Fite. Cannon Eames had 8 points in the quarter as YHS went on a 12-0 run and went into halftime with what they thought was a comfortable 43-25 lead.
The Hawks fought back in the third quarter outscoring YHS 25-14, tying the game at 71 with 26 seconds left as Eames fouled out. Yosemite missed the go-ahead bucket with 9 seconds to play, forcing the game into overtime.
Badger center Christian Rold scored 4 early points in OT, and with the game tied at 75, Antonis missed what could have been the game-winning basket with 7 second in the period, sending the game into the second overtime, where the Hawks outscored the Badgers for the 83-76 win.
Antonis, a junior, had best performances of the season scoring 29 points to go with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Eames had 15 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
Troy Fite finished the game with 10 points, and Ty Peterson added 7 points and 10 rebounds. ad 7 points. Rold finished with had 7 points and 9 rebounds, while Brian Mularkey added 6 points with 4 rebounds.
After losing a heartbreaker to Mission Oak, YHS traveled to face the Eagles of Firebaugh (10-8), in what turned out to be another close, exciting game. YHS was up 36-35 at halftime, but Firebaugh outscored Yosemite 27-21 and led 52-47 at the end of the third. The Badgers had one last shot for the win, but it didn’t fall, giving Firebaugh the 79-77 victory.
Eames and Antonis (Four 3-pointers) each had 21 points for the Badgers, and Eames had a season-high 8 assists. Sophomore guard Owen Bazzar had 15 points and hit three 3-pointers. It was Bazzar’s best game at varsity since being called up two weeks ago from the JV team.
Fite added 10 points, and Peterson, playing at center, had 7 points and 10 rebounds.
“In both games we went with a smaller lineup,” Coach Peterson said. “I thought Owen (Bazzar) had a great game hitting three 3-pointers. He has really helped our team since moving up from the JV team.”
JV lose to Mission Oak 48-38
After holding a 22-19 halftime lead, the Badger JV (9-4) team were outscored 13-4 in the pivotal third period and were defeated 48-38 by Mission Oak.
Holden Eames had 9 points and 4 assists for YHS, and Jackson Thearle had 8 points and 7 rebounds. Nathaniel Mulkey and Jeroe Solon each had 7 points. Mulkey also pulled down 7 rebounds.
League opener at Sierra Friday
The YHS varsity opens NSL play at Sierra (7-7) Friday. For YHS to have any playoff chance, they have to make a strong run in the NSL. The Badgers have played a tough non-league schedule but the NSL won’t be easy.
Playing at Tollhouse is never easy no matter what the team’s records are. Sierra defeated Firebaugh 64-58 at the Mendota Holiday Classic on Dec. 28.The Badgers will face talented 5-foot-9 freshman guard Tommy Newton, who is averaging 19.3 points per game. He has connected on 42 of 103 3-point shots and burned Firebaugh for 31.
Kerman (13-3) and Liberty (12-5) look to be the front-runners for the league title. Kerman is playing for their third-straight league title.
The Hawks of Liberty have won eight straight games, and there is always the Panthers of Washington Union. Union is 6-8 but like Kerman, has played a strong pre-league schedule. Chowchilla (4-13) is having a challenging season.