Dameane Douglas, the "other guy" on the San Joaquin Memorial High boys basketball team, scored 31 points to lead the Panthers to a 71-66 victory over Selma in the Central Section Division II championship game at Selland Arena on Friday night.
It is the Panthers’ first section title since 2012 and ninth overall for the storied program, according to section historian Bob Barnett. Memorial's heritage includes coach Jerry Tarkanian, the Pondexter brothers in the 1970s and the Lopez twins plus Quincy Pondexter (all future NBA players) in the 2000s.
This year's team overcame last season’s heartbreak of losing to Ridgeview 74-66 at Selland.
“All that hard work we put in over the summer … it all paid off,” said Douglas, who also had 11 rebounds, six assists, four blocks and two steals Friday in a great all-around game.
Douglas is the 6-foot-6 senior who transferred to Memorial after three years at Hanford West, then signed in November with Loyola Marymount. Most of the season he's been overshadowed by sophomore teammate Jalen Green, rated by many as the nation's best in the Class of 2020. Green scored 22 against Selma.
Douglas suffered an ankle injury at the season-opening Clovis West Nike Invitational and missed more than 10 games. The Panthers lost four in a row while he was out.
“I was hurting my senior year and I thought it was going to be over,” Douglas said. “I had to do a lot of rehab, a lot of work, a lot of extra hours before and and after practice and it paid off and I’m here. It’s all worth it.”
Memorial (25-6) had a rebirth in late December, beating Clovis West and the hosts in winning the Modesto Christian tournament. The Panthers won the County/Metro Athletic Conference, which featured two other section finalists in Bullard (D-I) and Sanger (D-III).
They faced a stout opponent in Selma, last year's D-III champs. The Bears (21-10) came in with their own powerful 6-6 player, Tiveon Stroud, who finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and one monster block. He commands recruiting attention in both basketball and football.
Another senior, William Pallesi, led Selma with 19 points. He's headed to UC San Diego and his dad, coach Mike Pallesi, announced he's retiring this season after 31 years.