High School Basketball

Fans behind them, but Immanuel Eagles fall under Frogs’ closing run in state final

Immanuel High fans filled three sections of Golden 1 Center on Saturday afternoon for the CIF State Division IV boys basketball championship game

This Eagles team had finally gotten over the regionals hump that others before it hadn’t conquered, and supporters of the private school from Reedley didn’t want to miss the moment.

They came tantalizingly close to celebrating a state title before Ribet Academy-Los Angeles pulled away in the final minutes for a 60-49 victory.

“There was a ton of blue up in the crowd and we were really happy with that,” Immanuel coach Chris Woods said. “We had a stretch here in the state playoffs and we had a bunch of home games and they were behind us and supporting us so I’m glad to see them coming out.”

The game was tied 46-46 with 3:54 to play in the fourth before the Frogs (27-3) closed with a 14-3 run.

“That was the turning point. They went on a bit of a run and we weren’t able to answer it,” Woods said. “Basketball is a game of runs and we just didn’t have enough minutes left in the game to make our last one.”

All season, Immanuel (26-9) was used to playing in close games. On 11 occasions, Eagles games were decided by five points or less and in six of those, the game was within two points.

In five of the eight playoff games Immanuel won to get to Sacramento, the Eagles won by five points or less five times.

Woods said he wasn’t worried when Ribet started the game with a 10-3 lead because he had seen his team claw back into games.

“We’ve had stretches this year of coming back in overtime and winning games and last-second layups and coming down from 13 with two minutes left,” Woods said. “Throughout this game, I wasn’t worried when they got up because I knew our guys could come down and hit the big shots. I just feel like we ran out of time there.”

When Immanuel tied it 14-14 before the first quarter had ended, its fans were on their feet.

“It was like a home game out there,” said sophomore forward Winston Williams. “You have people supporting you and that really matters to us.”

Williams said that when he walked into the arena for the first time Friday he was awestruck. He was entering the home of NBA players he considers to be role models. And on Saturday, he grabbed rebounds as if he was Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein.

Williams pulled down 18 rebounds and said that heading into the game, his coaches told him that his rebounding would be a key. In the second half, five of his nine rebounds were on offense to extend possessions.

Shawn Rodgers led the Eagles with 14 points. Jordan Rodriguez and Kaleb Daglish each scored 10.

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