HANFORD - Aaron Blancas scored a game-high 31 points, Joey Ramirez added 25 and Selma recorded its second highest point total of the season in a 99-82 Central Sequoia League road loss to Hanford West on Friday.

It was the second of a three-game slate on consecutive days to start the new year. The other two games in Selma’s back-to-back-to-back slate were non-league contests against Liberty-Madera Ranchos and Reedley. All three games were played with seven players.

“We needed some guys to step up,” Bears coach Johnny Vargas said. “Unfortunately, the guys that we needed to step up couldn’t step up tonight. I’m proud of our guys’ effort. We played hard.”

Selma (5-13, 1-2 CSL) went into the fourth quarter down 78-71 to the Huskies (11-5, 2-1 CSL) and struggled to score early in the final period as Hanford West began the quarter on a 9-2 run. The Huskies’ run extended their lead to 87-73, which at the time was the largest lead of the game for either team.

Hanford West gain its largest lead of the game later in the fourth at 21 points (99-78). The Huskies also outscored the Bears 21-11 over the final period. DJ Rodriguez scored Selma’s only basket of the fourth quarter as the team’s other nine points came from the free-throw line.

Blancas scored seven of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, but all of them came on free throws. Ramirez was held scoreless over the final quarter.

“We just ran out of gas with seven guys,” Vargas said. “Joey rolled his ankle early. He went down early and he was playing on a bad wheel, virtually, from the second quarter all the way to the end of the game. We pretty much played with four guys defensively. We tried to use him as a decoy a little and he couldn’t really get his shot up and he couldn’t really move.”

Selma kept pace with Hanford West in the first half, getting the lead three different times in the first quarter until the Huskies took a 23-21 advantage with 2:22 left in the opening period. It was the last lead change of the game. The lead changed a total of six times in the first quarter.

Hanford West led 34-31 at the end of the first quarter and 56-49 at halftime.

The Bears cut the lead multiple times and got within two points twice in the third quarter. After Selma cut the score 67-65, the Huskies answered back by ending the third on a 11-6 run to take a 78-71 lead into the final period. Both teams scored 22 points in the third quarter.

“We played hard with only seven guys,” Blancas said. “We can’t do too much, we only have two guys to sub. Most of us would be tired by the fourth so we just have to fight adversity, keep our heads straight and don’t let that tiredness get off our game.”

Nick Esparza scored 11 points, giving the Bears three double-digit scorers, while Matt Hernandez added eight and Rodriguez had seven.

Hanford West had double-digit performances from Josiah James (team-high 30 points), Geovanni Lewis (21), Darius Gatson (20) and Isaiah Love (13). Gatson scored 12 of the Huskies’ 21 points in the fourth quarter and James had seven points in the final period.

“We knew it was going to be tough playing with seven guys for all four quarters,” Ramirez said. “We did what we can and we did our best. I personally don’t think that any other team has one or two outstanding guys like us and Hanford West did. We struggled defensively, but I don’t think no other team is going to score 80-plus points on them.”

Prior to the CSL loss, Selma earned its fifth win of the season after defeating Liberty 87-64 behind 20-point performances from Ramirez (27 points) and Blancas (22). Rodriguez (11 points), Hernandez (10), and Esparza (10) all reached double figures in the win. The Bears’ 87-point total is the highest they have scored in a game this season.

The Bears followed their league loss with a 72-61 defeat to Reedley at the Second Annual Central Valley Showdown at Sanger High School on Saturday. Ramirez poured a team-high 22 points, Esparza scored 17 and Blancas added 10 against the Pirates.

Selma last played CSL opponent Exeter at home on Tuesday (after press time).

Up next

The Bears will play on the road against Immanuel (8-6, 1-2 CSL) on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Eagles won both meetings against Selma last season.

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The reporter can be reached at 559-583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

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