Lady Fortune must be in the corner for the Kerman High School boys basketball team.
Take these two instances:
1) With Bakersfield Christian High making a comeback minutes after giving up a precarious 43-42 lead, the Bakersfield school appeared to gain the momentum when 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Ben Yurosek stole a long pass. However, the ball rolled out of bounds off his foot.
2) On the ensuing possession, Kerman senior Daniel Rico was standing outside the 3-point line when a loose ball rolled up to him. After clutching the ball, he launched a 3-point shot that gave the Lions a 50-44 lead with 1:15 left in the game.
Kerman escaped with a 55-49 win to claim the Central Division IV championship on a Selland Arena floor that needed some duct tape to repair the floor near the free throw area on the south end.
“It’s amazing,” said Rico. “I’ve been looking forward to this since I was in the eighth grade. I made it my mission to get here.”
Kerman coach Tim Hurt was happy to see his team improve to 29-3 after 1-point semifinal playoff losses the last two seasons.
“Sometimes we don’t have the flashiest players, but sometimes we have the right players,” said Hurt. “It’s a great feeling to have the community come out today.”
Hurt estimated there were up to 1,000 Kerman rooters at the noon game. It helped, he said, that rain washed out many other high school activities taking place outdoors.
Hurt told his players to have “patience. Don’t try to win it all with one shot,” he recalled telling his team after it fell behind by as many as five points early in the fourth quarter.
Kerman, which won its 15th consecutive game, took an 11-8 lead after the first quarter but found itself behind, 20-19, going into halftime.
A layup by senior guard Hunter Macías with 3:50 left in the third quarter gave Kerman a 33-23 lead. Bakersfield Christian, now 25-7, then began to chip away.
Rico – who almost averaged a triple double during the season with 16.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 9.6 assists per game – was so focused on the task at hand that he “didn’t realize the game was over.”
“It’s crazy! It was a great scene,” he said.
Shubin added 18 points to help Kerman. Ezrah Mendrin had four blocks.
AJ Walton led Bakersfield Christian with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Seth Marantos added 16 points. Walton and Marantos combined for 6-of-11 shooting from the 3-point line.
Making the state playoffs will be a treat, he said.
“I think we have the pieces to make a deep run” in the state playoffs,” said Hurt.