Courtesy of Christopher Cross
Madera South’s Hassan Bolden dunks home two of his game-high 27 points in Tuesday’s loss to the Bullard Knights.
Whenever it looked like the Madera South Stallions took the momentum against the Bullard-Fresno Knights, the Knights hit a key bucket to get the momentum back in a 73-72 victory at Madera South.
The Stallions cut the lead to two with 18 seconds left, but a missed free throw and two Bullard free throws gave the Knights enough cushion to withstand a Junior Segura 3-pointer at the end of the game for a County/Metro Athletic Conference victory.
The Stallions were trying to get a sweep of the Knights after a 52-50 victory in the conference opener, but were hurt by free throw shooting. The Stallions made just 3-of-13 (23 percent) free throws, including going 2-for-11 in the first half.
“If we make our free throws, obviously the game is different,” head coach Jody Sharp said. “The outcome, I have no idea. The game is completely different. We’re shooting in our own facility. This is where they shoot all the time. There’s no excuse for that.”
Although the Stallions hit 11 3-pointers, the Knights matched it with 11 of their own, but it was the difference in the game.
“They made more 3-pointers this game than the last time,” Sharp said. “We made a bonehead decision with the basketball and they come down and hit a 3-pointer. That’s kind of the way it’s been in league.
Hassan Bolden led the Stallions with 27 points and four 3-pointers. Segura scored 15 points, all on 3-pointers.
“We keep battling and battling,” Sharp said. “They weren’t fouling and letting us go to the basket so we have to go more.”
Despite the loss, Sharp knows that it will help the team in the long run going into the Div. IV playoffs playing Div. I and Div. II teams in the CMAC.
“I’m a realist. We’re playing against Div. I schools,” Sharp said. “We shouldn’t be in the league. I’m hoping it helps us come playoff time, but it’s a grind. I have to try to keep the kids focused.”
Both teams battled to open the game, exchanging buckets. Segura hit a 3-pointer and David Thomas and Jonah Johnson hit short buckets, but Edison tied the score.
Bolden hit a 3-pointer, but Bullard scored four straight points. Bolden gave the Stallions the 12-11 lead, but Madera South turned the ball over four times in the final 1:40 and trailed
13-12 at the quarter.
Thomas opened the quarter with a 3-pointer, but Bullard answered with one of their own and added three free throws and a bucket for an 8-0 run.
Bolden stopped the run with a layup, but Bullard extended the lead to nine with a layup and another 3-pointer.
Segura hit a 3-pointer to get within six, but the Knights hit its third 3-pointer of the quarter for five straight points and a 31-20 lead.
Hakeem Primes made a free throw and Ralph White made a layup to get within six. After a Bullard bucket, Segura hit Madera South’s third 3-pointer of the quarter for a 33-26 Bullard lead.
The Stallions closed the quarter with a layup by White and a free throw from Primes. However, Bullard’s Uriah Carter hit two more 3-pointers while scoring 11 of his team’s 26 points in the second quarter for a 39-29 halftime lead.
Madera South tried to feed the post to open the second half with three straight Johnson buckets. However, Bullard hit a pair of 3-pointer to keep its 10-point lead.
Thomas scored a double-pump layup, but the Knights countered with a layup of their own.
Segura hit a 3-pointer and Bolden went coast-to-coast with a rebound and layup to cut the lead to five.
After a Bullard bucket, Johnson found White for a layup. Johnson got his hands on a Bullard pass and Tank Dickson came up with the steal. He fed up the court to Bolden, who dunked it down. Bullard made a layup, but Bolden countered with a 3-pointer to get the lead to 51-49.
However, the Knights took the momentum back with a 3-pointer to get the lead back to five. Bullard added another 3-pointer and an offensive putback for a 59-49 lead.
Bolden made a driving layup at the end of the third quarter for a 59-51 Bullard lead.
The Knights opened the fourth with back-to-back layups to open a 12-point lead, their biggest of the game.
The Stallions came back with a Thomas 3-pointer and a Bolden jumper to get the lead down to seven.
The Stallions forced two turnovers and got a 3-pointer from Bolden. The Stallions forced three straight turnovers, but turned the ball over twice themselves and couldn’t break into the lead.
Bullard hit another 3-pointer to get the lead back to seven, but Thomas scored on a layup. Another Bullard 3-pointer, its 11th of the game, gave the Knights a 61-69 lead with less than three minutes left in the game.
Bolden hit a 3-pointer to get the lead down to five. After a Bullard layup, Bolden drove to the hoop for a layup. Then, Thomas picked off a Bullard pass and scored to cut the lead to 71-68 with 56.7 seconds left in the game.
The Stallions drew an offensive foul with 36.1 seconds left. Bolden was fouled on a shot and made the first free throw to cut the lead to one. He missed the second and the Stallions were forced to foul with 18.3 seconds left.
Ten seconds later, they put Bullard on the free throw line and made both for a 73-69 lead.
Segura hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the 73-72 final.