High School Basketball

Central Section basketball finals: Immanuel boys pull away late, win third straight title

Immanuel High School star guard Colin Slater II was fouled with 6 minutes, 42 seconds remaining in the Central Section Division IV championship against Taft in a Saturday matinee at Selland Arena.

The Tulane-bound senior and 2015 Fresno Bee co-Player of the Year turned, took a few steps toward midcourt and looked up at the scoreboard.

And that largely tells the story, a surprising one.

No one anticipated a need for the Eagles to be scoreboard-watching in the fourth quarter of this one.

Yes, they would win 60-44 for their third consecutive section title – the first coming in D-V, the past two in D-IV – while improving to 25-5.

But consider: Immanuel, which had gone 41-1 against section opposition in two seasons with an average scoring superiority of 31.6 points, was leading but 46-37 against the 11th-seeded Wildcats (19-12) when Slater gazed above.

“I give a lot of credit to Taft,” Eagles first-year coach Nate McClurg said. “They did a really nice job of executing their game plan. We played the game Taft wanted us to play most of the game. In the fourth quarter, we sped the game up, pressed and played the game we wanted to.”

Slater, a year after delivering 25 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in a 70-50 win over Granite Hills in the D-IV final here, finished with 20 points, five assists and three steals in this one.

But he was 1 for 9 on three-point attempts and, as a team, Immanuel was 4 for 24 (16.7 percent) from long range.

Such accuracy troubles have been commonplace for participating teams in the 12-year history of the two-day, 10-game section finals at Selland. Depth perception presents a problem because seating and walls are distant from the backboards.

That said, the Eagles hardly displayed the might of a team that beat Oaks Christian-Westlake Village 77-60 and lost to Campbell Hall-North Hollywood 77-71 in the Southern California Regional to close a 30-3 season last year.

They, Taft and another section D-IV representative will learn of their 2016 regional seedings Sunday. Immanuel expects to be placed in D-I or D-II in a new SoCal format that will throw all teams from all divisions in one pot, rank them and disperse from there.

The Eagles return four starters from last season in addition to Nate Kendricks, a sophomore guard now starting.

Among the veterans is Darrin Person Jr., who shared The Bee’s 2015 Player of the Year award with Slater.

Person, a 6-foot-6 junior with scholarship offers from Fresno State, San Jose State and Cal State Bakersfield, had 10 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and two steals against Taft.

He, like McClurg, first credited the Wildcats of the South Sequoia League: “They showed a lot of heart; they play us really well.”

He then turned to himself and the team: “You have good games, you have bad ones. I don’t consider this a bad one. I didn’t play completely to my ability, but the team had my back. All that matters is we got another Valley championship.”

An encouraging development for Immanuel was the 17-point, six-steal performance by R.J. Horn. A senior guard headed to Fresno Pacific, he hadn’t played in two weeks because of an internal problem that never was diagnosed.

Tevin Howell scored 13 points and Zachary Kolb 10 for Taft, which played an effective zone defense and, like its coach, let its collective shirt hang out.

“We went in with nothing to lose,” said coach Robert Lumsden, whose Wildcats had beaten the No. 3 and No. 6 seeds in Kennedy and Rosamond along the road to Selland. “We knew we were underdogs. We came in to play to the best of our ability and give them a run.”

Andy Boogaard: 559-441-6400, @beepreps

No. 1 IMMANUEL 60, NO. 11 TAFT 44

Taft

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Kolb

21

4-10

2-2

0-2

1

3

10

Iakopo

20

0-2

1-2

1-5

1

4

1

Howell

31

5-11

3-8

1-9

3

1

13

Maui

19

0-3

1-2

3-3

2

3

1

Wade

27

3-8

0-0

0-4

3

2

9

Self

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Iotamo

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Lopez

14

1-7

0-0

3-4

0

4

2

Tainenetz

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Gable

0

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Ginn

15

3-3

0-0

1-1

1

3

6

Palacios

2

0-0

0-0

0-1

0

1

0

Turner

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Tack

7

1-4

0-0

1-1

1

2

2

Totals

160

17-48

7-14

10-30

12

23

44

Percentages: FG .354 .500. Three-point goals: 3-13, .231 (Iakopo 0-2, Howell 0-2, Wade 3-7, Lopez 0-2). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 3 (Kolb, Iakopo, Talnenetz). Turnovers: 27 (Kolb, Iakopo 3, Howell 8, Maui 6, Wade 2, Self, Lopez 4, Ginn, Palacios). Steals: 13 (Kolb, Howell 4, Maui, Wade 4, Lopez 3).

Immanuel

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Prins

10

0-2

0-0

0-1

0

3

0

Horn

28

5-14

4-5

2-4

2

1

17

Kendricks

25

3-7

4-4

2-8

1

2

10

Slater II

29

5-15

9-9

1-3

5

3

20

Person Jr

25

3-8

4-8

4-12

0

3

10

Rosedale

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Reinke

1

0-1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Aluisi

16

1-3

1-2

1-1

0

2

3

Neal

1

0-0

0-0

0-1

0

1

0

Odom

6

0-1

0-0

1-2

0

1

0

Peters

3

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Verhoeven

15

0-0

0-0

0-3

0

2

0

Totals

160

17-51

22-28

15-40

8

18

60

Percentages: FG .340, FT .786. Three-point goals: 4-24 .167 (Prins 0-2, Horn 3-8, Kendricks 0-4, Slater II 1-9, Reinke 0-1). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 2 (Person Jr. 2). Turnovers: 20 (Horn 5, Kendricks 2, Slater II 5, Person Jr. 4, Reinke, Verhoeven 3). Steals: 17 (Prine, Horn 6, Kendricks 2, Slater II 3, Person Jr. 2, Rosedale, Aluisi, Verhoeven).

Taft

10

11

15

8

44

Immanuel

18

14

10

18

60

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