By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
LINDSAY – The Lindsay Cardinals (6-13, 1-0) were facing a crisis of confidence coming into their East Sequoia League (ESL) opening game. In the 2018 season the Cardinals have lost nine games by 6 points or less. Which according to head coach Frank Morin is unacceptable for such a senior heavy squad.
“That’s too many games. I think we are finally holding ourselves accountable to that,” Morin said.
Last Friday night’s game against the Sierra Pacific Golden Bears (5-11, 0-1) could have easily been another close loss. By the end of the first quarter the Cardinals trailed by two, 9-7. In the second quarter the Lindsay offense began to make a difference from the perimeter and on the offensive boards. It was sophomore Issac Munoz who swung momentum the Cardinals way when he hit two big three pointers, one of which gave them a 15-9 lead mid way through the second quarter.
Keeping the ball away from Sierra Pacific’s big man Jayson Little-John helped Lindsay preserve a three point 20-17 lead heading into half time.
Lindsay’s first four minutes in the third quarter seemed to be propelled by their ability to score. Julian Avalos made some big plays to lift the Cards to a 30-19 lead. One of which was recovering from a seemingly down play. Shooting from the corner beyond the three point line, Avalos seemed completely free. But when he pulled up Sierra Pacific’s Mathew Popples jumped into frame and swatted the ball. In fact Popples went so far as to try and throw the ball at a Lindsay player to get the inbound. Instead the Cardinals recovered for a score.
Unfortunately by the four minute mark the Golden Bears had hacked away at an 11-point deficit turning it into just 5, down 30-25, after they hit a deep three point shot. As a result the Cardinals bench called a timeout to regroup, but that did little good as Sierra Pacific took their extra bit of rest and then cut the deficit even further, 30-29, in the final minute of the quarter.
Sierra Pacific went on to take a five point lead at the beginning of the fourth until the Cardinal’s responded with a layup and two free throws to make the score 35-34 with six minutes to play.
Captain Javier Avalos, who finished with 24 total points on the night, showed his teammates how to best draw a foul when he pump faked under the net and then jumped into the defender for two points and the free throw, which gave them a brief 37-35 lead. Sierra Pacific responded seconds later. From there it was a tit-for-tat battle until the Cardinals decided to start dropping three pointers.
Following Javier Avalos who sank a three pointer to take the lead 42-39, Munoz who had 18 points by the end of the night, did the same which ultimately set them apart late in the fourth quarter. Despite Sierra Pacific’s best effort, the Cards broke into the ESL winners column early in with with a seven point 56-49 final.
Their game last night against the Granite Hills Grizzlies ended after press time. Tomorrow night they play at 7:30 p.m. in Woodlake.