Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Andre Johnson rises up for a jumper during Tuesday’s season opening victory over Firebaugh. Johnson led the Stallions with 12 points.
After watching nine varsity players graduate last season, Madera South boys basketball head coach Jody Sharp expects an adjustment period early in the season.
The first game of the season against Firebaugh proved Sharp’s sentiment. The new-look Stallions struggled to gel in the season opener on Nov. 20, but still came away with a 48-35 win at home.
“We have so many new faces,” Sharp said. “I graduated nine guys last year and 14 from the last two years, a team that has been successful over the last three years. It’s understandable that the new faces are going to take time to adjust. They have to adjust to playing at this level because we don’t have as many returning varsity players.”
With the turnovers mounting and the shots struggling to fall, the Stallions only managed a 9-7 lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, however, the Stallions were able to make a run and expand the lead. Jaden Arroyo’s three-pointer at the end of the second quarter gave the Stallions a 20-12 lead going into halftime.
Sharp was especially pleased with the defensive effort in the second quarter.
“The positive thing is we started getting stops in the second quarter, so that helped us,” he said.
Firebaugh closed the gap to five at the beginning of the third quarter, but it was only a matter of time before Madera South pushed the lead back to double digits. The Stallions pushed the lead thanks in part to back-to-back trips to the free throw line.
Still, Sharp wants his team to go to the free throw line more often.
“We have to get ourselves in situations where we get to the free throw line,” Sharp said.
The Stallions scored only 11 points in the third quarter, but it was good enough for a 12-point lead going into the final period.
“We were really inconsistent at the offensive end, not finishing around the rim, guys not being strong around the basket,” Sharp said.
The Stallions had their best offensive quarter in the fourth, scoring 14 points. Senior Terrance Knox made the signature play of the fourth quarter, chasing down a Firebaugh player to block a layup attempt on a fastbreak.
“That’s a hustle play,” Sharp said. “We gotta get more of that from our guys.”
The Stallions pushed the fourth-quarter lead to 18 and won by 13.
Senior Andre Johnson led the Stallions with 12 points. Knox put in 10 points for the Stallions.
“It’s a learning curve, but it’s always nice to get your first W,” Sharp said. “We have to take care of the ball, we have to get stronger and execute better offensively. We have to do a better job on the defensive end, reacting quicker rather than waiting till after the fact. That just comes with more floor time as far as these kids are concerned.”