SELMA - In front of a packed crowd inside the Selma High gym, the Kingsburg Vikings took sole possession of first place in the Central Sequoia League standings with a 67-60 win on Jan. 16.
It was a matchup between two rivals, who were 5-0 in CSL play coming into the game. It was the Vikings first win over the Bears since the 2015-16 season.
“It feels good,” Kingsburg forward Maddy Reed said. “A lot of hard work.”
At the end of the every quarter expect the fourth, Kingsburg would be down by nine points. The fourth quarter would be the time Vikings gained its first lead of the game. Kingsburg took outscored the Bears 25-9 in the fourth quarter after taking advantage of missed shots from Selma.
Vikings’ head coach Kristi Bravo said for her team to get back into the game, the girls would have to limit Selma’s shot selection and out rebound the Bears in the fourth quarter.
“The fourth quarter has always been our better quarter,” Bravo said. “I was telling them at halftime ‘This is our second half, time to turn it on’ and they went to work and Selma went cold in that fourth quarter. They couldn’t hit too many shots and fortunately we were able to get the rebounds.”
According to Maxpreps, Selma (18-3, 5-1 in CSL) was the top ranked team of the Central Section Division III standings before the rivalry matchup. Maxpreps ranked Kingsburg (16-5, 6-0 in CSL) as the seventh best team in Division IV. As of press time, Kingsburg moved to the sixth spot in Division IV while Selma remains as the top ranked team in Division III.
Before tipoff, all of the Bears and Vikings league wins were by double-digit margins.
After a 24-15 lead at the end of the first quarter, Selma started to take control of the game with a 17-point advantage at 37-20 midway in the second quarter. That 17-point lead wouldn’t last long, as the Vikings closed the quarter with a 9-1 run to go into halftime down 38-29.
During the third quarter, the Bears looked to be taking control of the game again with a 15-point 46-31 lead, but with two three-pointers made by Shareen Purewal on back-to-back possessions, the Vikings made it a nine-point game at 46-37. A few possessions later, Kingsburg made another three-pointer cut its deficit to eight at 48-40.
The third quarter would end with Selma ahead 51-42.
In the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, the Bears offense got cold and were only able to score five points. With 2:56 to play, Kingsburg had a 62-56 lead after a 20-5 run. It would be a lead the Vikings wouldn’t squander.
“We went away from what got us there,” Selma head coach Paul Romig said. “The game plan and the things we were emphasizing seemed to go out the window and we tried to do things that were characteristically away from what we were trying to game plan and we pay the price for it.”
Bears’ senior guard Rachel Vieira said the loss is the most disappointing outcome for the team this year.
“We weren’t doing the little things that we should of,” Vieira said. “It just come down to the mental part of it, we were trying to do everything physically possible, but in essence it just comes down to that mental game where we have to do those little things that coach talked about what we went over in practice.”
Vieira finished the night with a team-high 15 points and was one of three double-digit scorers for Selma. Clarissa Moreno and Elena Loutherback each scored 14 for the Bears.
Kingsburg had three double-digit scorers led by Reed, who scored a game-high 16 points, followed by 15 from Purewal and 12 from Emily Fuentes.
When the two teams meet up on Feb. 5 for the regular-season finale at Kingsburg, that game could possibly decide a league champion if both teams win every league contest leading up to that matchup. Players on both sides said there’s plenty of work to be done before the regular-season finale occurs.
“We just have to be plugged in and practice,” Vieira said. “In every position, we can’t give up at all and we just have to be mentally focused on everything.”
“We just have to keep practicing hard and keep doing everything that we’re doing,” Vikings point guard Emily Fuentes said.
On Jan. 18, Kingsburg improved to 17-5 overall and 7-0 in CSL play after a 66-44 home win over Immanuel. It was the Vikings fifth-straight win. On the same night, Selma got on track at home with a 76-40 win over Central Valley Christian. The Bears improved to 19-3 overall and 6-1 in CSL play after the win.
Selma will host Hanford West (4-17, 2-5 in CSL) on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Kingsburg won’t play a game until a road matchup against Dinuba (13-10, 4-3 in CSL) on Jan. 28.