HILMAR — In order to make the playoffs for the third consecutive time, all the Hilmar High boys basketball team had to do was stop an Escalon High team that had beaten the Yellowjackets earlier in the season by double-digits.
Thanks to Daniel Greenleaf’s timely rebound and putback with 6 seconds left in overtime, Hilmar topped the Cougars 54-52 on Tuesday night in the Trans-Valley League season finale. Coach Danny Freitas believes the win is enough to lift his No. 17 Yellowjackets into the top 16 of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV power ratings that determine playoff seedings.
“We’ve done our job,” Freitas said.
Now, he and his Yellowjackets will have to wait. Le Grand High and Bret Harte High are the two squads ahead of Hilmar in the power rankings, and there was no word late Tuesday night about the outcomes of their games. But again, Freitas believes his team did enough.
The Yellowjackets finished 12-13 overall and 6-6 in the TVL, thanks to a 19-point night from senior Trent Goiburn and a 13-point effort from Greenleaf, whose final two points were crucial.
After Goiburn’s missed baseline jumper with the shot clock winding down, the ball grazed the rim and Greenleaf pulled down the rebound. He then finished with the game-winning shot.
“I think we just got lucky,” Greenleaf said.
Hilmar was ahead 48-46 with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left in regulation, but a traveling call and a missed wide-open 3-pointer set up an opportunity for the Cougars to tie the game up. Nate Peterson (15 points) raced down the court after the missed shot to score a layup with under a minute left.
But in overtime, the Yellowjackets were able to stop Escalon’s shooting. By then, the Cougars had already nailed seven 3-pointers. They did not score after the 1:36 mark, while Hilmar got two free throws each from Goiburn and John Barros — in addition to Greenleaf’s putback.
All the Yellowjackets can do now is wait. The section is expected to release the playoff brackets for all the divisions on Sunday at about 2 p.m.
“I like to think that we’ll get in,” Freitas said. “I pretty much told the kids, ‘If we win, we’re in. If we lose, we’re done.’ Obviously, they didn’t want to end the season just yet. Plus, it was Senior Night and it was a good way for the seniors to finish off their home careers here.”
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