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.
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.