The Yosemite High boys basketball team (14-7, 2-1 North Sequoia League) travelled to Easton Jan. 22 on a roll with six straight wins, nine of their last 11. Yosemite was confident they could go to Union and get a long-overdue win, but it was not to be.
Despite its early season record, the Panthers (7-14, 2-1 NSL) used a stifling interior defense and defeated Yosemite 45-41. The game was close all the way, with multiple lead changes down to the wire.
Yosemite and Union are now both 2-1 in the NSL and tied for second behind Kerman (13-7, 3-0 NSL).
Head coach Aaron Eames remained upbeat after the game.
“We didn’t shoot well, but we played great defense,” Eames said. “We were in the game until the end. Some of our starters weren’t feeling well. No one complained. We went out and competed hard. Our team has only played at home twice to date. We are in a good place, but not satisfied. We know there is no easy game in the NSL. We will take no team for granted.”
Both teams set a defensive tone early, and neither team shot well.
The first quarter ended with YHS leading 8-7. Both teams stayed close in the second quarter. Union went into halftime up 19-18.
In the third quarter, Union guard Trae Ellsberry and center Ricky Dow kept the Panthers in the game scoring their 11 points. Union held a 40-39 lead going into the fourth quarter.
On a 5-0 run, Union jumped to a 35-29 lead. YHS would fight back with Peter McLean scoring three points, but Union built a 43-34 lead with 2:23 left on six points from Ellsberry.
Badger point guard Tristan Eames then hit a bucket and nailed two free-throws, but it proved to be too little too late. Ellsberry led all scorers with 22 points. Dow had 13. Together they combined for 35 of Union’s 45 points.
Senior center Kade Cross led the Badgers with 16 points and added 16 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. He also made history (see adjoining story).
McLean had nine points and led YHS with 17 hard-fought rebounds. . The Badger front-line combined for 25 of 41 points for YHS. Tristan and Cannon Eames had seven points each.
YHS defeats Liberty 50-39
YHS led from start to finish and defeated Liberty-Madera Ranchos 50-39 on Jan. 20. The interior Badger defense and front line simply dominated the Hawks (11-10, 1-2 NSL). The Hawks did keep it close until the pivotal third quarter where YHS outscored Liberty 15-9.
Cross had another great game with 21 points, 12 rebounds, six blocks, and three assists.
McLean contributed another solid performance with 11 points and led YHS with 16 rebounds, 12 of those on the defensive end.
Ty Peterson scored three points, pulled down seven defensive rebounds, dished out a team-leading six assists and four steals. The front line of Cross, McLean, and Peterson thoroughly dominated the inside.
YHS took an 11-7 lead into the second quarter. Cross had six points in the quarter, while Yosemite outscored Liberty 11-10 and took a 22-17 lead at the half.
Yosemite had a comfortable 37-26 lead at the end of the third. Liberty could not close the gap and matched YHS with 13 points in the final quarter.
Point guard Tristan Eames had 10 points and led YHS with six assists.
The Lions Loom
YHS will play two more critical games, both at home. The Badgers played Chowchilla (6-16, 0-3 NSL) Wednesday (scores not available at press time).
Chowchilla lost to Kerman 67-53 last week, but led into the fourth quarter.
The Badgers host league-leading Kerman Friday.
“We know Kerman will be a key game, but every league game matters,” said Coach Eames.
The Lions and Badgers last tangled at the Kingsburg Tournament on Dec. 11. The Lions, led by nine 3-pointers from Anthony Pacheco defeated YHS 63-58. The team’s leading scorer is junior forward David Rico (20.1 points per game).