After losing two of the first three games in North Sequoia League play, and an overall 8-14 season record, the chances of Yosemite Badgers girls basketball coach Gary Blate having his first losing season in 14 years seemed inevitable - and the chances of receiving a home playoff game seemed extremely remote as there were eight teams in CIF Central Section D-II with better records.
Then the Lady Badger’s season turned around with the team reeling off seven straight wins to finish the regular season with an overall 15-14 record, while Selma lost five of their last six games to also finish 15-14.
With Yosemite and Selma heading in different directions, CIF Central Section officials gave the nod to Yosemite as the No. 8 seed and the home game at 7 p.m. Wednesday against the No. 9 seed Selma Bears. Game results were not available at press time, but will be posted online here at www.sierrastar.com.
The game is a rematch of last year’s second round playoff game in which Yosemite prevailed at home 59-40.
This year’s Badger team struggled to win games in the preseason then had to avenge league defeats to Sierra and Washington Union. Yosemite followed those two wins with a one point win at Chowchilla before facing a Kerman Lions team that had jumped out to an 11-4 first quarter lead in the first round game at YHS before succumbing by a 43-29 score.
The Lions had recently beat Washington Union by double digits while the Badgers had a close game against the Panthers and won on a 3-point shot by freshman Hailey Rich.
In the final game against Kerman, the Badgers were on the road and wary as the Kerman gym was the site of an upset defeat of a stronger Badger team two years before.
Both teams started all seniors, but the difference was Yosemite had been doing this for all league games while the Lions were honoring some players who did not usually start.
The difference was apparent as Yosemite jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the first quarter with Allie Stearns scoring eight of the points and continuing the onslaught for a 32-12 halftime advantage. Rich scored eight points in the second quarter.
Kerman outscored Yosemite in the second half but still fell by a 53-34 score. Stearns finished with 18 points and Rich had 10 to lead the Badgers in their final 2016 league game.
Yosemite finished NSL action with an 8-2 record and second place behind the 9-1 Sierra Chieftains. Sierra received the No. 5 seed in the D-II playoffs.
The winner of the Yosemite-Selma game will face the No. 1 seed Redwood at 7 p.m. Friday.
Yosemite High Correspondent