Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Kevin Berdejo puts up a shot to score two of his team-high 16 points in Friday’s loss.
The Madera Coyotes boys basketball team quickly found itself in a large deficit against Bullard-Fresno and struggled to recover, losing 72-58 at Joe Flores Gym.
Down 24-3 after the first quarter, the Coyotes tried to make up some ground in the second quarter by outscoring the Knights 18-14. Still, it was a 38- 21 lead at halftime.
“They played hard second through the fourth quarter, just wish we didn’t spot them that big first quarter lead,” Madera coach David Lozano said.
The gap grew to 48-23 early in the third quarter after the Knights put together a 9-0 run. Omarion Thomas-Marshall and Cameron Schneider especially proved to be a headache for the Coyotes as they continued to attack the basket to earn free throws.
“Bullard is unbelievably athletic. They played hard, but our kids didn’t quit,” Lozano said. “That score could have been a lot worse.”
Madera found some momentum when Sammy Hass drained a 3-pointer to fuel a 7-0 run for the Coyotes. Kevin Berdejo also scored a pair of free throws, while AJ Pickens converted a shot from close range to cut the lead to 19. The Knights then answered with a 3-point play from Thomas-Marshall. Alek Trukki and Pickens later responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Knights’ lead to 17 points at the end of the third quarter.
After Hass scored another bucket in the fourth quarter, the Coyotes trailed 57-42. Trukki added another 3-pointer with three minutes left, but the Coyotes were still down by 15 at that point. After Kecian Primes converted a 3-point play, the Coyotes still faced a double digit with under a minute left. The Knights officially closed the door on Madera with free throws down the stretch.
Berdejo scored 16 points for the Coyotes, while Trukki added 14.
With just a few games left in the regular season, Lozano is still hoping to see the team’s first playoff berth since he became head coach three years ago.
“We’re just fighting to, hopefully, get a playoff berth,” Lozano said. “We have yet to go to the playoffs since I have been the head coach. That’s a goal we set before the season, so we’re trying to get there.”