Coyotes close out win over Clovis
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera point guard JoJo Pickens tries to drive against Clovis during Tuesday’s victory. Pickens scored 13 points and went 11-of-14 from the free throw line to help ice the game in the fourth quarter.
The Madera Coyotes boys basketball team closed out its match-up with the Clovis Cougars on a 14-2 run to pick up a 62-54 non-league victory in Joe Flores Gym.
The Coyotes, who fell victim to an 11-1 run to open the fourth quarter, used the defensive intensity to overcome the run and make one of their own Tuesday evening.
The win gave head coach David Lozano one of his biggest coaching victories in his career, but credited it back to the team.
“There’s a CMAC win that was cool,” he said. “I’m super excited for the boys. We don’t beat a Clovis school too much. I am so happy for those kids. They are so coachable, they are so accountable and they don’t make excuses. They just listen and it makes it really fun.”
J’Sean Gonzales and Elias Torres paced the Coyotes with 17 points each. JoJo Pickents scored 13 points and went 11-of-14 from the free throw line, including going 5-for-6 late in the game.
“We’ve been practicing so much situational basketball in practice that it paid off,” Lozano said. “We haven’t hit free throws all year. The way they responded to that challenge was special.”
The Coyotes wore down the Cougars and forced six fourth quarter turnovers, including five in a 12-0 run down the stretch.
“That’s our calling card — our tenacity, hustle and energy, defensively,” Lozano said.
The Coyotes went 6-of-8 from the free throw line in the final minute to put the game away.
Both teams were locked in a close battle all game long with neither team able to get more than four points away from each other.
Madera took a slim 16-15 lead into the second quarter.
Torres put back a miss to give the Coyotes a 22-18 lead. After Clovis hit a jumper, JuJu Hall came up with a steal and turned it into a layup.
Clovis took advantage of a pair of Madera misses for two buckets to tie the score at 24. The Cougars added a free throw to take a lead with 1:33 left in the first half.
Gonzales picked up a late steal and hit a 15-foot jumper. However, Clovis beat the buzzer with a 12-foot jumper for a 27-26 halftime lead.
Pickens made a free throw to tie the game in the third quarter. Gonzales drove to the bucket for a layup to answer to Clovis free throws.
After Clovis made another free throw, Torres hit a 3-pointer, set up by Gonzales.
The Cougars scored the next four points before Gonzales hit a pull-up jumper to tie the game.
Torres drove to the bucket for a layup, and was fouled. He made the free throw for a three-point lead. Clovis put back a miss to cut the lead to one. Pickens sank a pair of free throws for a three-point lead with 1:12 left in the third.
The Cougars closed the third quarter on a 6-1 run to take a 42-40 lead. Clovis extended the run to 11-1 with an offensive putback and a 3-pointer to take a 47-40 lead.
However, Gonzales answered right away and drained a line drive 3-pointer. Clovis scored on another offensive putback, but Torres drove in for a layup to cut the lead to four.
Torres added a free throw and Pickens made two more to cut Clovis’ lead to 49-48.
The Cougars hit a 3-pointer to take a four-point lead. However, the Madera defense held the Cougars without a point for the next three minutes.
Madera started its comeback with a Torres rebound that led to a Shovawn Gonzales driving layup off an assist from Stevie Estrada to cut the lead to two.
Another Torres rebound led to a J’Sean Gonzales pull-up four-footer to tie the game.
Shovawn Gonzales came up with a steal and fed to Pickens for a layup to give the Coyotes the lead.
After Clovis was hit with a traveling violation with 1:34 left in the game, Pickens found Estrada for a layup and a 56-52 lead.
Shovawn Gonzales came up with a steal and the Cougars went into foul mode. Pickens sank two free throws to open a six-point lead.
After a J’Sean Gonzales steal, Torres was fouled and sank a pair of free throws for a 60-52 lead for a 12-0 run with 39.5 seconds left in the game.
Clovis got the game back to two possessions with a layup with 31 seconds left. However, Pickens was fouled and hit one-of-two free throws to get the lead back to three possessions.
Clovis missed a shot and Gonzales came down with the rebound and was fouled. He hit one-of-two free throws with 13.6 seconds left for a 62-54 lead.
For good measure, Gonzales came down with another rebound on the Cougars’ final shot to secure the victory that led to a water bottle shower for Lozano in the locker room after the game.