SELMA - For the second straight year, the Selma boys basketball team has sole ownership of the Central Sequoia League title after defeating Kingsburg 79-43 at home on Feb. 13.
It was the season finale for both teams.
The Bears won back-to-back league titles for the first time since the 1960-61 and 1961-62 seasons.
“We just have a lot of great kids, players that have played together since they were in fourth and fifth grade,” said head coach Mike Pallesi. “I took them all over the place, we played anybody at any time.”
The majority of the team’s starting lineup has been on the team since they were freshman including the coach's son William Pallesi, Manny Singh, Junior Ramirez and Tiveon Stroud, all seniors.
William Pallesi, Ramirez and Stroud have scored 1,000 career points with Stroud being the latest to earn the accomplishment. He eclipsed the milestone in the Bears 95-59 win over Exeter on Feb. 6.
“Having three guys who have scored 1,000 points, not too many teams in the Valley have that,” Mike Pallesi said. “So we’re pretty blessed.”
Coming into the game, the Bears were in first place (8-1) in the CSL standings and one game ahead of Immanuel (7-2). Before the game against the Vikings, Selma at least clinched a co-championship.
The Bears ended the season at 19-9 overall and 9-1 in league play.
Up next for Selma is the California Interscholastic Federation Central Section Div. II playoffs. The Bears earned a bye as a No. 3 seed and will host the winner of the No. 6 Tulare Union and No. 11 Lemoore game.
“If we’re playing our best, we should get to [play] at Selland [Arena],” Mike Pallesi said. “I’m confident on how good we are.”
Last season, Selma won the Div. III Valley Championship game 56-42 over Sanger at the downtown Fresno venue.
If the Bears were make it to Selland Arena for the second consecutive season, they’ll potentially face top-seeded and last year’s Div. II runner up San Joaquin Memorial. The first-seeded Panthers have a deep starting lineup including senior Dameane Douglas (24.4 points per game, 10.5 rebounds) and sophomore Jalen Green (28.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg), who is ESPN’s top-ranked player in the 2020 class.
“To me, they’re by far the best team,” Mike Pallesi said about San Joaquin Memorial. “But when you go to Selland, anything could happen.”
The Bears will begin its postseason in the quarterfinals at home at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22.
“We just have to take care of business at home,” Mike Pallesi said.
As for Kingsburg, the Vikings end the season at 9-19 overall and 1-8 in CSL play.
The team struggled and lost 12 of its last 13 games.
Kingsburg head coach Todd Brown said his current group of seniors set a perfect example for the team’s underclassmen.
One of those seniors was Ak Hayer, who suffered a lower leg injury in the third quarter of the game.
“It’s unfortunate, he’s been hurt off and on for a while,” Brown said. “My heart is heavy for him because he puts a lot work in, plays super hard and was handling it like a champ."
Other seniors who played in their final game as a Viking were top scorers Jeremy Ray (who broke the school’s single-season record for most three-pointers made at 108) and Ryan Flippo (who will move on to play at Colorado College next season). Ray averaged 17.4 points a game and Flippo 12.5 this season.
As for next year, Brown is looking forward to coaching players who will be promoted from the junior varsity squad. The junior varsity team finished at 13-8 overall and 6-3 in league.
“I’m excited about the JV group,” Brown said. “Those guys are ready to work. It’s good that JV had a good year and got used to some winning and carrying that on.”
Kingsburg players that will be returning are starters guard CJ Laita and Logan Byrum.