HANFORD — With a West Yosemite League title on the line, Hanford stepped up when they needed to. The Bullpups defeated Lemoore 51-31 to clinch the league title on Wednesday night.
The Bullpups (21-7, 9-3 WYL) held the Tigers to 20.7 percent shooting from the floor, including 0-for-15 from the 3-point line.
“We did an excellent job of playing defense,” Hanford coach Brad Felder said. “We took a defensive approach to the game first.”
With their best scorer, Karsten Gregory, out for the game, Austin Serpa and Jayshaun Collins stepped up in a big way.
Serpa scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds and was 5-for-6 inside the arc. Collins added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The two scored 68 percent of the team’s points.
Lemoore didn’t have a single player in double figures with Joemyl Ragunton scoring a team-high eight points. Michael Sheldon and Juelein Arroyo were next with four points each.
Hanford led 30-20 at halftime and neither team could score in the third with the teams combining for 11 points in the quarter.
But it was all Bullpups in the fourth as they outscored the Tigers 16-5 and ran away with the game.
“Overall, we played very hard and very focused, where in the past sometimes we’ve lost focus,” Felder said. “They realized that this was a chance for them to win a league title.”
The league title is Felder’s 11th while at Hanford and helped meet one of their goals for this season.
“We basically set five goals at the beginning of the year,” Felder said. “One was to get better each game. One was to get 20 wins. One was to be league champs. One was to get to the Valley finals and one was to get a state game.”
The Bullpups got their 20-win season by finishing 21-7 overall and they got their league title by posting a 9-3 league record. Felder said he’s not positive the team’s gotten better each game so they’ve got two out of three right now.
They’ll be able to start their goal to get to the CIF Central Section Division II finals next Thursday in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. They earned the 2-seed in the bracket and a first-round bye. They’ll face the winner of 7-seed Independence and 10-seed Fresno.
“It’s that time of the year where you just want to survive and move on,” Felder said. “It doesn’t matter how pretty it is or how well you play, it’s how focused you are and how hard you play and if you execute.”
The Bullpups were upset in the first round last year as the 7-seed when they lost 66-62 to Hoover in the first round. They haven’t reached the finals since they defeated Mission Oak 64-49 and won it all during the 2014-15 season. Hanford went on to win a state playoff game before bowing out in the second round.
Redwood (19-8, 9-3 WYL) defeated Mt. Whitney 80-64 on Wednesday and also clinched a share of the WYL title. The Rangers earned the 4-seed in the Division II bracket. The only way the two teams could meet up is if both made it to the finals.
“Our goal is to get to the finals,” Felder said. “It would be a great year if we could go on and get a state game.”
Final WYL standings:
Mt. Whitney 8-4
El Diamante 6-6
Golden West 2-10
Hanford West 2-10
*West Yosemite League co-champions