Stallions advance to Div. IV semifinals
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Hassan Bolden rises up to score two of his game-high 35 points in Friday’s quarterfinal victory over Bakersfield Christian.
One of the goals for the Madera South boys basketball team this season was to make history.
With Friday’s 69-53 Div. IV quarterfinals victory over the Bakersfield Christian Eagles, the Stallions advanced to the Div. IV semifinals for the first time in school history.
“I’m proud and it’s great for the kids and the school,” head coach Jody Sharp said. “This is what I wanted last year, but we couldn’t get it done.”
The second-seeded Stallions host No. 3 Kerman tonight at 7 p.m. for a ticket to Saturday’s Valley Championship game at Fresno’s Selland Arena at noon.
The Stallions received a monster performance from senior Hassan Bolden, who scored a career-high 35 points. He was also 17-of-19 (89 percent) from the free throw line, brought down eight rebounds and had three steals.
“He was huge today and I’m proud of him,” Sharp said. “We had a conversation the other day. I told him he has to play up to who you are. Play within what we’re trying to do and be who you are. Help yourself and everybody else to get better. I offered him a challenge and told him he was guarding No. 21 (Jeremiah Foster). He did a good job on him.”
Foster scored eight first quarter points, but was held to just four the rest of the way.
“Defensively, we were pretty good,” Sharp said. “We got full of ourselves after the first quarter. The guys started doing whatever they wanted to do.”
The Stallions jumped out to a 24-10 first quarter lead, but Bakersfield Christian shrunk the lead to eight by halftime.
However, a 16-7 third quarter gave the Stallions control of the rest of the game.
“I got on them a little bit,” Sharp said. “I got on them because we went away from what we did in the first quarter. That was the one thing that bothered all of us coaches. We got away from what was working and wanted to get back to that. We wanted to attack the basket to try to put them into a tough situation. Why did we choose to do something different. We tried to come out with the same mentality and drive in the second half. We also backed up to half court and concentrated on defense to keep players from foul trouble.”
Another key to the game was to keep Bakersfield Christian shooter Noah Taylor to get into a rhythm. The Stallions were so good on Taylor, they held him scoreless.
“That was key during practice to make sure we had someone on that guy so he couldn’t get off,” Sharp said. “We also knew 21 (Jeremiah Foster) was going to get some, but we wanted to limit what he could get. I thought we frustrated him.”
The Stallions opened the game by scoring the first 10 points and 12 of the first 14. Bolden scored eight of those 12 points while Ralph White and Junior Segura also hit mid-range buckets.
Bolden added a layup, a turnaround fadeaway, two free throws and another layup to lead the Stallions to a 20-7 lead.
After a Foster 3-point play, Jonah Johnson hit back-to-back buckets for two of his 10 points. Bolden scored 16 points in the first quarter.
The Stallions got two free throws from Bolden, Hakeem Primes and a layup by Andre Johnson to open a 30-14 lead.
However, Bakersfield Christian scored 10 straight points to cut the lead down to six.
Steals from Kingsley Thomas and Primes led to layups from Bolden and Segura.
An Eagles free throw and a bucket cut the lead to seven before Thomas scored down low. Bakersfield Christian made a free throw before the end of the half for a 36-28 Stallions lead.
Madera South, after a tongue lashing from Sharp, started driving the lane against the Eagles and it led to free throws and layups.
Bolden scored the first three points for the Stallions in the second half on free throws. He fed Johnson for another layup.
After an Eagles layup, Bolden made two more free throws.
The Stallions opened the lead to 15 with a bucket from Johnson and another from White, off a Johnson assist. Segura hit a short jumper for a 6-0 run.
However, the Eagles hit a 3-pointer to get some momentum, but Segura answered with a 3-pointer of his own to get the momentum back for a 52-35 lead.
Bakersfield Christian opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and a layup. However, Amire Green drained a corner 3-pointer to answer.
The Eagles came back with a 3-pointer to get the lead down to 12.
Bolden put the Stallions on his back with a 3-point play and two free throws to get the lead back to 17.
The Eagles made a layup and a free throw to stop the run. Bolden made a layup and Foster made one of his own.
Primes found Johnson for a layup to open a 64-58 lead with a little more than two minutes left in the game.
The Eagle shot a free throw and a layup by Foster, but it was too little, too late because Foster was hit with a technical foul after the layup and was removed from the game with 1:23 left.
Bolden hit one of two free throws and was fouled on the ensuing possession and made both of those for a 67-51 lead.
The Stallions’ final points came on a Christian Sylivia layup from Victor Daza for the 69-53 victory.