A fitting ending to the Central Section Division III boys basketball championship Saturday at Selland Arena had Junior Ramirez launch consecutive full-court passes for Tiveon Stroud that resulted in resounding dunks.
Three months after the two starred on Selma’s 13-1, section-winning football team in D-IV, they carried the top-seeded Bears to a 56-42 basketball win over Sanger.
This came 103 years after Selma captured its only other section title in boys basketball, according to historian Bob Barnett.
Sanger, also coming off a 13-1, section-winning football season (D-II), was seeking its first boys basketball crown.
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13-1 Football records last season at both Sanger and Selma
But Ramirez wouldn’t have it for Selma, which earned a No. 6 seed Sunday in the CIF Southern D-III Regional and a home game Wednesday at 7 p.m. against No. 11 Van Nuys.
A Junior by name and grade in school (his real name is Henry), the 6-foot guard scored 21 of 23 points in a stretch bridging the second and third quarters that thrust the Bears in control for good, 35-25.
Ramirez finished 9 of 19 from the field and 10 of 13 at the free-throw line for 30 points, and added eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.
He accounted for 2,462 yards and 20 touchdowns in football as The Bee’s Medium Schools co-Player of the Year, then missed the basketball team’s first game because the football season stretched to Dec. 9.
“You could say I was kind of feeling it, shot the ball and it felt good going in,” he said.
This came a year after Ramirez and three others started as sophomores in a D-III final won 60-36 by Roosevelt.
“That didn’t sit well with us,” Selma coach Mike Pallesi said. “We had a mission all year long to get back here and we weren’t going to be denied.
“Junior stepped up and was ice water. He kind of takes over at times. I’ll be honest, I wanted to run a bit more stuff, but he gets into one of those modes where if he sees something, he goes. I allow my guards freedom if they see something to go, and he did.”
Stroud, a 6-foot-6 junior who played running back and receiver in football, delivered 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
A couple hours after Sanger’s girls shot 14.8 percent (9 of 61) in a 27-26 loss to Madera in another D-III final, the Apaches’ boys struggled similarly, shooting 22.6 percent (12 of 53). They did shoot 78.9 percent in free throws (15 of 19).
Isaiah Cole and Morice Norris each scored eight points for Sanger.
Apaches standout Arron Mosby, headed to Fresno State on a football scholarship as a defensive back, played only 20 of the 32 minutes because of foul trouble and finished with seven points and six rebounds.