Nate Kendricks, the Immanuel High junior guard with special bloodlines (see NFL players Mychal and Eric Kendricks, his uncles), scored 28 points and Darrin Person Jr. delivered 20 points and 11 rebounds as the top-seeded Eagles defeated Madera South 58-51 for the Central Section Division IV boys title in a Saturday matinee at Selland Arena.
It was the fourth-consecutive section crown for Immanuel (20-9) – the first in D-V, then the next three in D-IV.
Kendricks, replacing two-time Bee Player of the Year Colin Slater (now at Tulane) at point guard, has played in the past three.
Playing here (at Selland Arena) is nothing different for us, it’s the same game. Other people get under the lights and it’s different for them. But, for us, this is like our second home.
Immanuel’s Nate Kendricks
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“Playing here is nothing different for us, it’s the same game,” said Kendricks, who made all seven of his free throws and had 10 rebounds. “Other people get under the lights and it’s different for them. But, for us, this is like our second home.”
Person, a 6-foot-6 wing who has signed with Cal State Bakersfield, was a starter throughout the Eagles’ four-year title run. The program has captured 14 section crowns overall.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for Immanuel basketball, for myself, for this group of guys and coaches,” he said. “Unbelievable. It hasn’t hit me yet.”
This guarantees the Eagles will be bumped to D-III next season when the section’s competitive equity model will realign while likely returning to a two-year cycle. It’s closing a three-year cycle this school year.
4 Consecutive Central Section basketball championships for Immanuel’s boys
Immanuel is coached for the second season by Nate McClurg, who took over when C.J. Haydock was hired at Fresno Pacific.
“There’s a lot of great sports at Immanuel,” McClurg said, “but it’s a basketball-first school. There’s a lot of tradition and I’m following the footsteps of a lot of great coaches.”
Regarding Kendricks, he added: “He’s smooth and easy. We have to try to get him going sometimes, though not production wise. He’s very quiet and very humble, and he’s got a right not to be.”
Junior Segura had 13 points, Hakeem Primes12 and Hassan Bolden and Jonah Johnson split 26 rebounds for second-seeded Madera South (20-11), which was seeking its first title.
The Stallions’ 10-year program has been coached for the past nine by Jody Sharp, the former Fresno and Bullard coach.
He brought a few players to last year’s D-III final won 60-44 by Immanuel over Taft.
The idea was to give them a feel of “The Selland Show,” just in case. And, sure enough, Madera South made its first appearance Saturday.
“I told them before this game, this is an opportunity to play a game you’ll never forget, that it’s something special, no matter the outcome,” Sharp said. “This was good for the kids, good for the school and good for the community. I’m just happy I stood around long enough to be a part of it.”
He’s 58 and has coached for 35 years in a leading role and assistant.
Will he return? “I re-evaluate after every season now. It’s been a fun ride and I feel like we kind of made history this year. I enjoyed it; this was a great experience.”
The Stallions will join Immanuel and one additional section D-IV team in the CIF State Regionals next week.
All of the section’s boys and girls representatives – 28 in all – won’t know if they’ll play in the state’s North or South regions until Sunday’s seedings.