Stallions close out win with 13-3 run
Behind a relentless defense and some clutch scoring at the end, the Madera South Stallions boys basketball team heads to its first-ever Div. IV Central Section Valley Championship game after an 80-70 victory over Kerman in the semifinals.
The second-seeded Stallions, who never trailed in the game, got off to a quick start, but the third-seeded Kerman Lions came back to tie the score late in the fourth quarter. However, the Stallions closed the game on a 13-3 run to clinch a trip to Saturday’s Valley Championship.
“It’s just everything we’ve been through this year by playing the teams we played in the County/Metro Athletic Conference and not quitting,” head coach Jody Sharp said. “It’s the will to want to keep playing. During the time out, I told them we worked all year for this.”
The Stallions will play top seed Immanuel-Reedley, who defeated No. 4 Bishop Union 79-53 in the semifinals. Both the Stallions and Immanuel have Edison-Fresno as a common opponent. Immanuel lost 66-59 in January. The Stallions were swept in their CMAC series with the Tigers, losing 62-60 in overtime and 69-55.
The Stallions had four players score in double figures, led by Jonah Johnson with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
“We knew just from watching tape, Jonah was going to be a major part,” Sharp said. “We made him and the team aware of that and wanted to take advantage tofthat. I wish we could have taken advantage of it more. He became unselfish again. It worked early and we got off to the start I wanted to. That helped. We felt we had a huge advantage with Jonah’s strength around the basket.”
“They didn’t have anybody that could guard me,” Johnson said. “They didn’t have the size so we went down low tonight and bodied them up.”
Hassan Bolden, who scored 35 in a quarterfinal win over Bakersfield Christian, scored 18 points with five rebounds.
“This is a dream come true,” he said.
Junior Segura scored 16 points with clutch free throws and rebounds at the end of the game. Hakeem Primes added 14 points.
“It feels really good,” Sharp said. “I’m real proud of these kids. I told these kids last year if they worked their butts off. They had an opportunity to do this. We get an opportunity to play on Saturday.”
“All four years, I’ve been trying to get to the championship game,” Johnson said.
The Stallions had to counter the scoring of Kerman’s David Rico, who scored 31 points, however, he was limited to just 13 points in the second half.
“David Rico is a good player,” Sharp said. “He knows how to score and doesn’t get rattled. We wanted to crowd him more to feel our presence and make tough shots. He made some tough shots. We wanted to double him and forced him to get rid of the ball. Down the stretch, that was huge. Thank goodness it all worked out in our favor.”
The Stallions got off to a quick start, scoring 11 of the game’s first 14 points. Johnson started the scoring with a layup. After a Rico 3-pointer, Segura answered with a 3-pointer.
David Thomas and Segura came back with back-to-back layups. Johnson then scored down low for an 11-3 lead.
The Lions came back to cut the lead to five despite a Segura 3-pointer.
A Bolden steal and layup and a Thomas steal and Bolden layup led to a 20-11 lead.
Kerman came back with two 3-pointers from Rico and another from Hector Acosta to cut Madera South’s lead to 21-20.
Bolden closed the first quarter with a 3-pointer for a 24-20 lead.
The Stallions continued a run into the second quarter with an 11-0 run. Segura made a free throw and a 3-pointer.
Primes made back-to-back buckets to open the lead to 12. Kerman answered with two buckets, but a Johnson layup gave Madera South the lead back to 10.
After a Rico layup, Andre Johnson hit a 3-pointer, but Rico answered with another 3-pointer. Bolden hit a 3-pointer and Kerman ended the scoring with a layup for a 40-31 Madera South lead.
Another scoring spurt ended with the Stallions holding a 46-37 halftime lead after buckets from Johnson, Bolden and Tank Dickson.
After the Lions opened the second half with a 3-pointer, Primes hit a short jumper. The Lions then converted a 3-pointer play, but Primes hit a jumper for a 50-43 lead.
Two Kerman buckets cut Madera South’s lead to three, but Bolden hit a short jumper. A Kerman layup got the Stallions’ lead down to three. However, Bolden hit Primes for a layup to get the lead back to five. Daniel Rico made a layup to get Madera South’s lead back to three.
Johnson converted a 3-point play and Bolden made two free throws to open a 59-51 Madera south lead. David Rico made a pair of free throws to cut the lead to six.
Madera South had an extended possession with four missed shots, but got three offensive rebounds. The possession ended with a Johnson layup. After a Bolden rebound, White hit a 17-foot jumper at the end of the third quarter for a 63-53 lead.
Kerman battled back to score the first four points of the fourth quarter. Madera South answered with a Johnson bucket and a Primes layup.
Kerman struck with a pair of 3-pointers and a bucket while taking advantage of five Stallions turnovers. Rico scored on a layup with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 67.
The Stallions came right back with a Bolden five-foot jumper. The Stallions got a Kerman charging call and Johnson scored on a layup.
After a Johnson rebound, he found Primes for a layup for a 73-67 lead with 58.3 seconds left in the game.
On Kerman’s possession, Dickson picked up a steal and the Lions went into foul mode.
Segura went to the free throw line with 40.1 seconds left in the game and missed the first of the one-and-one. However, he got his own rebound and dribbled to halfcourt. He was fouled and Kerman was hit with an intentional foul.
Segura made one of two free throws and then got the ball back after the inbounds and was fouled again. He, again, made one of two free throws with 32 seconds left, but, again, got the offensive rebound and, again, was fouled. He made both free throws with 28.2 seconds left for a 77-67 lead.
Madera South forced a Kerman throw out of bounds. Segura was fouled again and made two free throws for a 12-0 run with 18.6 seconds left in the game.
Rico hit a 3-pointer with 12.1 seconds left to cut the lead to 79-70, but it was too little, too late.
Andre Johnson made a free throw with 10.2 seconds left in the game and the Stallions’ fans stormed the court to celebrate an 80-70 victory.