Last Friday was the biggest game in recent memory for the Yosemite High boys basketball program as the Badgers hunted for an elusive North Sequoia League title, one not seen in Oakhurst since the 1998-99 season.
Standing in the way were the Lions of Kerman, winners of eight straight games.
The Badgers (15-8, 3-2 NSL) also had a chance at home for redemption after losing to Kerman (15-7, 5-0 NSL) 63-58 in December. It was the Lions who roared, breaking open a close game in the third quarter before defeating Yosemite at home 73-54.
Kerman was more physical than Yosemite and dominated the perimeter in a game witnessed by more than 600 fans. The Lions moved the ball with great passing, totaling 26 assists to only eight for the Badgers.
Kerman’s junior forward David Rico showed why he is the NSL’s best, with a game-high 30 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists with zero turnovers. Rico was held to 13 points in the first meeting of the two teams.
Yosemite’s Kade Cross did all he could to keep YHS close, leading the team with 24 points and four blocked shots.
With those 24 points, Cross passed Travis Ressler with 1,049 points in his four-year varsity career. Ressler finished in 2002 with 1,028 points while Rael Lang, from 1991, is the all-time leading scorer with 1,431 points.
Kerman had just a one point lead (25-24) at half, but unleashed a 24-2 run, and outscored Yosemite 28-5 in the third quarter to take a 53-29 lead.
Although YHS outscored Kerman 25-20 in the fourth quarter, it was too little, too late.
“The third quarter killed us,” head coach Aaron Eames said. “They came out on fire and we didn’t respond. I called two timeouts but it didn’t help. We were even in every other quarter.”
Still, Coach Eames was optimistic.
“I like where we are at,” Eames said. “Remember, we are still a young team with only one senior on the roster. The kids are learning, but we are where I thought we would be at this point in the season.”
Yosemite’s Tristan Eames had 11 points and five assists. Peter McLean had eight points, and 13 rebounds, and Cannon Eames had five points, and five steals. Ty Peterson recorded four points, 10 rebounds, and two steals. Since replacing injured starting forward Ben Negley, Peterson has had three double-digit rebounding games.
YHS defeats Chowchilla 76-56
Perhaps playing their most complete game of the year Jan. 27, the Badgers led from start to finish beating the Redskins 72-56. Yosemite had a 21-11 lead in the first quarter and led 36-23 at halftime.
The Badgers poured it on in the third outscoring Chowchilla 21-9. The Redskins could not recover. Chowchilla outscored Yosemite 24-15 in the fourth when YHS had mostly backups playing.
McLean led YHS with 19 points, nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Cross had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Cannon Eames had 13 points, four steals, and two assists. Reserve forward Trevor Peter had his best game of the season scoring 10 points and pulling down three rebounds. Tristan Eames scored eight points, and had six assists.
Overall, the YHS bench contributed 17 points. Peterson didn’t score but had 10 rebounds and two steals. Overall, the YHS bench contributed 17 points. Peterson didn’t score but had 10 rebounds and two steals.
Cross was presented with a commemorative poster, plaque, and basketball from Athletic Director Rusty Oetinger in honor of his induction into the school’s prestigious “1,000 Point Club.”
North Sequoia League
Kerman is still undefeated in North Sequoia League play at 5-0. Washington Union is 4-1. YHS is third at 3-2.
Union visits Yosemite Feb. 10, for a 7 p.m. rematch.
YHS traveled to Tollhouse Wednesday to take on an improving Sierra (5-14, 2-3 NSL). Results not available at press time.
Yosemite will meet Liberty-Madera Ranchos (11-12, 1-4 NSL) at home Friday. The Hawks have lost four straight since losing to Yosemite 50-39 on Jan. 20. Liberty is led by sophomore guard Anthony Aguilar (16.3 ppg).
JV team drops two
The Badger JV team (10-8, 2-3 NSL) lost two close games last week to Chowchilla 48-45, and to Kerman 62-57. The Badgers have lost three in a row and four of their last five.
Against Kerman, Jaeden Pierce led YHS with a season-high 16 points, six rebounds, and two steals. Noah Allen added 11 points.
Against Chowchilla, Allen had a big game scoring 16 points, including three 3-pointers.
On Jan. 20, the team played in its most exciting game of the season, winning in a 54-51 double-overtime victory over Liberty, overcoming a 35-28 deficit at the end of the third quarter. With time running out Allen hit a clutch 3-pointer to put the game into overtime.
Both teams scored five points in the first overtime. The Badgers pulled it out in the end outscoring Liberty 7-5 in the second and final overtime. Besides the big 3-pointer, Allen led all scorers with 19 points, and seven rebounds. Caleb Eicholtz added 10 points and two 3-pointers. Steven Schumaker had eight points and seven boards. Paul Antonis had two 3-point shots for six points.
First-year Coach Charlie Medley is quietly but intensely moving the JV boys basketball program forward, despite not having six sophomores that are playing on the varsity team.