The Yosemite High Badgers (4-12, 0-1) opened North Sequoia League play in Suberry Jan. 16, facing an experienced Sierra team (7-5, 1-0), and one of the toughest home crowds in the league, losing by a wide margin, 63-25.
Yosemite played well in the first period and led Sierra 12-10, but Coach Aaron Eames, coaching in just his second game, saw his Badgers get outscored 28-11 in the second period. The Badgers managed only 12 points the rest of the game. Sierra was physical, faster to the ball, and hit outside shots. Mostly a perimeter shooting team, Sierra pressed on defense and kept up the pressure with their bench.
The Chieftains made life difficult down low for Badgers’ leading scorer Kade Cross. Sierra made sure Cross was double-teamed during the game, and the Chieftain guard tandem of senior Brent Smith and sophomore Harry Blunt torched YHS from beyond the arc, hitting five 3-pointers in the second quarter and four more in the third period. Yosemite had no answer on the perimeter.
Cross finished the game with 13 points, the only Badger to score in double figures, while Sierra had four players in double figures - Brent Smith (14), Harry Blunt (13), Alec Dalton (10), Keenan Quintana (10).
In the JV game, Sierra narrowly defeated Yosemite 38-33. Sierra’s Ian Hunter was the game’s high scorer with 12 points. For YHS, Ben Negley and Alex Williams each had 11.
Yosemite defeats Minarets 55-44
The parking lot was full, and the crowd of nearly 600 was loud and energetic - and that was at the beginning of the JV game. The long anticipated match-up between the Badgers and the Mustangs was played Jan. 14 at Yosemite, with Yosemite winning 55-44.
Prior to the game, on Jan. 13, the YHS administration announced the appointment of Aaron Eames as interim head coach of the Yosemite basketball program, after Stephen Lopez resigned his position. Eames is now coaching both the varsity and JV squads. This capped an emotionally draining two weeks for Badger hoopsters.
“I am very proud of the kids, especially with all they have been through,” Eames said. “The kids have a great amount of perseverance and overcame the adversity of a tough week.”
The team met for two hours in a room and we talked openly and honestly. We went into the meeting a broken team but came out as a family. No one worried about starting, points, or stats, just what’s best for the team going forward. It really says a lot about their character.”
Coming off a wild finish in the JV game, the atmosphere was electric from the start. YHS freshman guard Cannon Eames got it started with a 3-pointer, and Mustang Kaleb Fausone answered with a 3. The Badgers quickly pushed the lead to 12-3. Fausone hit another 3 and Sam Delk a 2-pointer for the Mustangs to close out the first quarter with Yosemite up 12-8. It was soon 17-8 as Cannon Eames started off the second quarter with another 3-pointer, and brother Tristan got a steal and layup.
Again, Minarets came with four points, but Yosemite answered with a 12-5 run with key baskets coming from Rounsivill and Sam Williams. Williams hit two shots and picked up key rebounds as the Badgers went into halftime up 29-17, after a physical first half.
Yosemite built a big 34-14 lead with six minutes left in the third quarter. Minarets Coach Paul Varner called a time out to steady his team, and after the break, the Mustangs scored five points, including two Mason Ellis free-throws, his only points in the game. Fausone’s 3-point play brought Minarets back, down only 37-26 with 2:08 left in the third. Minarets closed to 38-30 but a three-pointer at the buzzer by Tristan Eames lifted the Badgers to a 41-30 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Senior Sam Delk and Kaleb’s brother Caanin Fausone led a Mustang fourth quarter comeback. Caanin Fausone made 5 of 7 free throws, while Delk worked the inside to close the gap to 43-36. A basket by Kade Cross and free throws by Cannon Eames boosted the YHS lead to 47-37. Cross scored 13 points in the game including a slam dunk late in the game that brought a thunderous cheer from Badger fans.
The Fausone brothers combined for 23 of 44 points for the Mustangs.
The Eames brothers combined for 21 points. Cannon Eames continues his double-digit scoring. Since being brought up from JV team, Eames has scored 10 points or more in four of his last five games. Cross led YHS with 8 rebounds.
Sam Williams was the key according to Coach Eames.
“Sam gets the game ball in my view,” Eames said. “He was huge off the bench and almost had a double-double (10 points and 8 rebounds). Sam can do a lot of things on the court and he gets it done.”
“It was a good game,” Varner said. “We have a really young team that didn’t quit. It was really loud, almost like a playoff game. We played hard the whole game, especially in the second half.”
Varner, along with Lopez, were instrumental in getting the game scheduled.
Peterson’s shot gives JV team win
The historic night got started with a close JV contest with Yosemite winning 39-38 on a basket by freshman Ty Peterson with three seconds to play. The win moves the Badger JV to 7-6. Minarets is 6-5.
The Mustangs held a slim 34-31 lead early in the fourth quarter. A Ben Negley free-throw and Peterson layup narrowed the lead to 34-33 Minarets with just two minutes to play.
Mustang guard James Backmann hit a 10-footer and got a foul. It was now 38-37 and it looked like a Minarets victory with 10 second left, but Backman missed his free throw shot. Yosemite’s Negley rebounded the missed shot and passed to Peterson who went the length of the floor and hit a floater with three second on the clock, giving Yosemite the win.
“I didn’t think it was going in,” Peterson said. “I thought I would get fouled and go to the line. It worked out great.”