KINGSBURG - The Kingsburg girls basketball team broke its four-game losing streak after defeating Dinuba High School 79-55 on Feb.2.
With the win, the Vikings improved to 8-14 overall and 3-4 in Central Sequoia League play. Kingsburg is in fourth place, but are one game behind for second in the standings behind Immanuel and Exeter, both of whom are tied with a 4-3 record. With Selma having a 7-0 record in league, the Vikings are mathematically eliminated from title contention, but the team is still looking to play in the CIF Central Section Div. IV playoffs.
"We’re going to have a tough road,” said Kingsburg head coach Mark Willis after the game. “If we have any chance to get into the playoffs, we must win these [final] three games.”
The team’s 79 points are the most scored by the Vikings this season.
In the first two quarters, the game was close between the two teams and Kingsburg had a 40-35 lead at halftime.
The third quarter was when the Vikings really took over the game by outscoring the Emperors 29-5 in the period. Kingsburg went on a 19-2 run to start the quarter.
Willis said containing Dinuba guard Mireya Hernandez – who scored 23 points – in the third quarter was significant for the Vikings.
“When we came out of the half, we knew we had to shut their guard down a little bit and we knew we needed a rebound,” Willis said about the team defending Hernandez. “I think we did a little bit of both. Not the best, but we did enough to slow them down.”
It was a good shooting night for Kingsburg with a 52 field goal percentage and four Vikings scoring in double-digits. Junior forward/center Maddy Reed lead the team with 21 points and shot 6-of-9 for 66 percent. She was also 9-of-12 in free-throw attempts.
Junior guard Shareen Purewal was second on the team with 18 points. Sophomore Emily Fuentes and senior Tasharee Vaughn each scored 15 points. Purewal had an excellent shooting day in three-pointers, going 5-of-9 (55 percent) from beyond the arc. Fuentes shot 5-of-13 and Vaughn went 5-of-11.
“Offensively, we shared the ball and we created open looks for our outside shooters,” Willis said. “When you get an extra second or two to look and you have good three-point shooters, your chances of making them will be much better.”
Earlier this season, Willis fully expected this year’s Kingsburg team to compete for a league title, but injuries have derailed the Vikings to play to their full potential. The way the team played against the Emperors is what he envisioned on how the girls will compete this season.
“This is the team that I was hoping we would see,” Willis said. “Hope it’s not too late.”
If Kingsburg doesn’t qualify for the playoffs this year, the majority of the team’s starting lineup (Reed, Fuentes, Purewal, Perkins) will return next season. Vaughn and Karen Rodriguez – who is out this season with a torn ACL – are the only seniors on the team. Willis said Vaughn is a good contributor on offense and it’ll be tough to replace her, but the team should be improved if everyone is healthy next season.
“We have a good core group,” Willis said. “We should be very competitive next year, but I need some wood to knock on.”
Kingsburg last played against Central Valley Christian on the road on Feb. 6. The next game for the Vikings will be on Thursday, Feb. 8, against Immanuel on the road. That will be the team’s final road game of the regular season. Kingsburg will be back at home for its regular season-finale against rival Selma on Wednesday, Feb. 14.