Dinuba High started fast but couldn’t recover from a third-quarter drought and lost 80-56 to Mt. Shasta in the Northern California boys basketball Division V regional championship game Tuesday night.
Things looked good early for the second-seeded Emperors as Josh Magana silenced the crowd with six 3-pointers on 7-of-11 shooting in the first eight minutes and the visitors jumped to a 23-17 lead.
“We have a couple of guys that can score it and Magana got going for us,” Dinuba coach Jeff Schofield said. “Once he hits a couple, he’s going to hit a few more. He was getting looks and making the most of it.”
In addition to Magana’s hot hand, the Emperors’ defense was forcing the Bears into four first-half turnovers that led to Dinuba buckets.
But as hot as the Emperors were in the opening period, they started to cool in the second quarter. The top-seeded Bears wrestled the lead from Dinuba on a Nolan Johnson 3-pointer with 90 seconds left in the first half and took a 36-33 edge into intermission as the Emperors connected on 4 of 12 field goals in the second period.
“We had trouble scoring in the paint and I’m sure they figured we can’t continue to hit 3s at that rate,” Schofield said.
Dinuba tied the game at 38 on a Sebastian Garza bucket with 6:31 left in the third, but that’s as close as the road team would get. Luke Rodriguez hit a 3 from the top of the key with 3:12 left in the third period and the Bears responded with a 19-2 run to end the period.
During that span Mt. Shasta’s Kaden Ricomini hit a trio of 3-pointers, including a halfcourt buzzer-beater, and Dinuba took a flurry of timeouts to try staunching the home team’s momentum.
“Trying to keep our composure and not get too rattled against a great home crowd,” Schofield said of the three timeouts in a 90-second span. “(We needed to) focus on making smart plays and solid plays but that didn’t seem to work.”
The buzzer-beater by Ricomini, who finished with 20 points, gave Mt. Shasta a 64-43 lead heading into the final period. The Bears maintained a 15- to 20-point lead until the reserves came in with a handful of minutes to play.