Denair missed a chance of a late comeback when they met Ceres High in the semifinal bout of the consolation bracket in day two of the Godinez Tournament at Turlock High on Friday.
Isaac Starks was once again a standout player for the Denair Coyotes after scoring a game-high 24 points, but after a downfall in the second half, the Ceres Bulldogs took advantage of the miscues and sped off with a 24-18 run to edge out the Coyotes, 43-41.
“This game started out similar to the first game, Isaac coming out strong, honestly not a whole lot of negative besides coming out the losing side,” said Denair coach Garett Elliott. “We don’t do morale victories but at the same time we are proud of our kids' effort.”
“We picked up our first win of the year as well after losing a couple of close games,” said Ceres coach Julio Marquez. “The win also gives us a chance to compete for the consolation bracket and that is what’s important.”
Ceres’ Austin Styles and Christian Garcia tied with a team-high 11 points for the game and six guys scored for the Bulldogs.
Despite a better effort in the second half, it wasn’t the best start for the Bulldogs after the Coyotes held them to only 8 points in the first quarter.
Starks was once again leading the team early on and with a late three-point shot in the closing minutes of the second, Denair took a 23-19 lead heading into halftime.
Ceres went on to shake things up in the third and although Denair extended the lead to 10 in the middle of the third, Ceres responded by going on a 14-4 run and by the conclusion of the quarter both sides were even at 33 apiece.
“We came out and were pressing a bit more and had different looks to get our intensity level up because we were a little down and it helped,” said Marquez.
Ceres' second half game plan was working.
“Their press got a hold of us and we turned it over and they got some points and from there on out their press was a challenge for them at first and we did good and stayed in the game till the end,” said Elliott.
Denair went on to commit only 12 turnovers for the game but Ceres was able to hold on to the lead even after Denair tried for a final play with under 10 seconds remaining in the game.
A mistake on the play caused a turnover and Ceres was able to burn out the clock with 1.1 second remaining.
“We drew something up and it was going our way but we just bobbled the ball at the end and it’s just the way the ball rolls sometimes,” said Elliott. “We got kind of antsy hands and got moving when we didn’t have the ball and it is what happened and it took the wind out of everybody.”
Aside from topping all scorers, Starks also added 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Dylan Mann finished with 6 blocks, 8 rebounds and 5 points. Joe Brasil tallied 9 rebounds.