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Stallions box out Liberty for key win

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Madera South’s Julian Camacho drives the lane to score a layup in front of Liberty’s Dante Ciritella during Monday’s victory over the Hawks.


Trailing by two with 11.2 seconds left in the game, the Liberty Hawks boys basketball team had a chance to a get possession to tie the game with the Madera South Stallions.

Madera South cooperated and missed five straight free throws. However, the Hawks, who have been having trouble with rebounds, couldn’t get one to secure possession. Madera South pulled down three offensive boards to keep possession.

“Our inside play showed at the end with those free throws,” said Madera South head coach Cory Edmiston. “We still couldn’t make a free throw.”

“At the end, we couldn’t block out to get the rebound,” Liberty head coach Johnny Gonzales said. “We work on it in practice. I guess we still have to keep working on it.”

The Hawks still had a chance at the end. With 1.2 seconds, Liberty inbounded at half court. They found leading scorer Dante Ciritella at the 3-point line. His 3-pointer was just short off the rim and Madera South held for the win.

Madera South received scoring from nine different players. Joe Galvan led the team with 18 points to go with seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks. Erik Cervantes added 11 points and Lucas Samaniego scored seven with four steals.

“We are having a problem inside. That says a lot that we kept playing,” Edmiston said. “We work on that every day. We bang them with the pads around the basket. That’s been a story of our season. We’ve left a lot of points inside.”

The key to the game came in the third quarter where the Stallions forced the Hawks into seven turnovers and outscored the Hawks 18-11.

“I know we’re going to give up some buckets, but pressuring them on defense is our play,” Edmiston said. “We hope to wear them down in the fourth quarter. Our zone offense was really bad tonight. We don’t have enough time to work on it. We want to push the ball and press and, hopefully, take away their legs in the fourth quarter.”

“I’m proud of the effort,” Gonzales said. “There were a few turnovers in the second half that really hurt us.”

The Hawks committed 23 turnovers in the game and the Stallions recorded 18 steals. In addition to Samaniego’s four, Daniel Valdez and Julian Camacho each had three steals.

Without leading scorer Carson Stephens, who injured his ankle last week, Ciritella took the scoring role early. He scored 16 points with 14 rebounds and hit four 3-pointers.

However, Israel Rivera gave the Hawks another legitimate scorer with 17 points, including nine in the second half. Max Vestal added nine on three 3-pointers.

“Israel really showed up tonight,” Gonzales said. “It shows he can step up when we need a really solid player.”

Ciritella hit two early 3-pointers for a 6-2 lead. Neither team scored over a four minute stretch before Cervantes made a layup. Ciritella hit his third 3-pointer of the quarter for a 9-4 lead. Galvan put back his own miss to cut the lead to three.

Robbie Greening scored down low off a pass from Rivera, but Cervantes hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to two.

Harmen Singh knocked down two free throws and Galvan scored on a driving bucket. Rivera closed out the first quarter scoring with a layup off a pass from Josh Chohan for a 15-11 first quarter lead.

A bucket from Rivera and a 3-pointer from Vestal gave the Hawks a 7-0 run and a 20-11 lead.

However, Madera South went on a 7-0 run of its own. Nathan Barron started it with a banked-in 3-pointer. Cervantes made two free throws and Angel Martinez Garcia put back a miss to get the lead down to two.

Rivera made a free throw and hit a 3-pointer to get the lead back to six.

Galvan put back a miss, but Ciritella answered with a layup. The Stallions got a 3-point play from Samaniego and a steal and layup from Adrian Becerro to cut the lead to one.

Ciritella got the lead 29-25 with a 3-pointer at the end of the first half.

Singh put back a miss for Liberty’s first points of the second half. Madera South got a Galvan driving bucket and a Cervantes layup to cut the lead to two.

Singh hit a jumper, but Galvan put back a miss. Singh found Rivera for a layup and a 35-31 lead.

Cervantes made two free throws and Samaniego went coast-to-coast with a rebound for a layup to tie the score at 35. A Galvan layup gave the Stallions the lead and a 6-0 run.

Rivera stopped the run with a 3-pointer to take the lead.

Madera South went on a quick 6-0 run, taking advantage of three Liberty turnovers. Martinez-Garcia hit a 16-foot jumper, Galvan hit a 15-foot shot and Daniel Valdez made a layup for a 43-28 lead.

Rivera made a layup to cut the lead to three heading into the fourth.

Madera South got a free throw from Martinez-Garcia and a layup from Samaniego to open the lead to six.

However, Rivera sank a 3-pointer to cut the lead in half. Galvan made a layup, but Rivera put back a miss to cut the lead to three.

Vestal banked in a 3-pointer to tie the game at 48 with 1:21 left.

Rondell Jordan made a short jumper with a minute left and Ciritella tied the score at 50 with two free throws with 47.5 seconds left.

Galvan answered with a short bucket with 33.2 seconds left. Then, Camacho came up with a steal with 21 seconds left in the game.

The Hawks had to foul and it took them 10 seconds for three fouls to send Madera South to the free throw line. From there, the Stallions missed five free throws, but got three offensive rebounds, but that still set the stage for a potential game-winner from Ciritella.



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