Sophomore Lunden Taylor scored 20 points, including a go-ahead drive with 45.9 seconds remaining, as the Central Section’s eighth-ranked San Joaquin Memorial won 55-52 at Bullard on Tuesday night to clinch no worse than a tie for the County/Metro Athletic Conference title.
Following Taylor’s basket, Derek Junior’s offensive rebound led to a Taylor free throw and Mikey Ball drew an offensive charge that set up his own free throw as the Panthers improved to 22-4 overall and 8-0 in the league.
Memorial leads Bullard (12-15, 6-2) by two games with two remaining.
The Panthers, who went 4-0 in the CMAC against the Knights and Edison – teams that have combined for the past five section Division I championships and past three CMAC crowns – can clinch the league title outright at home Thursday night against Madera South. Memorial won 59-55 on the Stallions’ floor in the league’s first round.
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The Panthers will then close the CMAC next week Tuesday at Sanger.
The section’s playoff seeding will follow Feb. 20 at commissioner Jim Crichlow’s office in Porterville.
Memorial four-year coach Brad Roznovsky – who has six wins against D-I opposition (Clovis and Buchanan in addition to Bullard and Edison) – is hoping for a D-II No. 3 seed behind Ridgeview and Lemoore, who are ranked first and third overall by The Fresno Bee in the section.
Sophomore Uriah Carter scored 17 points for Bullard, which lost 80-70 in overtime at Memorial in the first round.