Sanger West’s rugged NYL basketball campaign opens with loss

Young Hornets squad overpowered by Hoover’s shooting and defensive pressure in 76-49 setback, but shows improvement early season

Sanger West High guard Kharon Parks drives to the basket during the second half of the Hornets’ 76-49 loss to Hoover High in both team’s North Yosemite League basketball opener on Dec. 19 at SW gym. The freshman finished with nine points, including a 3-point basket. (Jon Earnest)
Sanger West High guard Kharon Parks drives to the basket during the second half of the Hornets’ 76-49 loss to Hoover High in both team’s North Yosemite League basketball opener on Dec. 19 at SW gym. The freshman finished with nine points, including a 3-point basket. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published December 20, 2023  • 
11:00 am

SANGER – The Sanger West High basketball team already has tripled its win total from last season, but the start of the North Yosemite League campaign Tuesday night brought a dose of reality.

The Division IV-based Hornets (6-4) opened NYL play against Division II-based Hoover High, and the Patriots (6-6) used their veteran experience along with hot shooting and pressure defense to roll to a 76-49 victory at Sanger West gym. Hoover erupted for 44 points in the middle two quarters to build a 22-point lead after three quarters, cruising to the win.

Sanger West head coach Scott Spielman was pleased with his team’s effort in the first game in a long 14-game NYL campaign. The Hornets went winless in their inaugural league season last year, but showed growth and potential to chalk up some wins this season.

“This was a good test for us,” he said. “I thought we battled for 32 minutes, we just didn’t hit shots and had some poor decisions against their press.”

The Hornets trailed wire-to-wire, falling quickly into an 8-0 hole, but still battled Hoover tough for a half-closing within four points late in the quarter and then seven after one. Led by senior forward-center Angad Doad (who scored 10 of his team-high 15 points), the hosts were still within 10 points late in the second before a 3-point basket by senior Jeramiah Rodriguez (game-high 16 points) gave Hoover a 41-28 lead at the break.

The Patriots amped up the intensity in the third, slapping on full-court traps to force SW turnovers and quick transition baskets while building the lead. Freshman guard-forward Kharon Parks scored seven of his nine points in the quarter. Hoover built the lead as large as 30 points in the fourth, but the Hornets hustled and played intensely to the finish.

“We’re working through some things, but our biggest thing is to just compete, play tough on defense and root for each other,” Spielman said.

Junior forward Vayshawn Turner finished with seven points, and senior center Tayvier Moreau added six points for Sanger West. Doad showed that he’ll be a consistent double-double scoring and rebound threat inside for the Hornets, and also added a couple of blocks defensively.

Sanger West has collected six wins in the early going this season, defeating Division V and VI opponents but also topping fellow Division IV school Tulare Union.

“A lot of our kids are playing basketball for the first time,” Spielman said of the roster, which does have four seniors led by the 6-foot-5 Doad. “We’ve played some weaker opponents, and we’ve been able to be pretty successful. We’re trying to schedule a mix of teams early on to build up some wins, which we were able to do because a league win in the NYL is tough to come by.”

Sanger West has one tournament remaining right after Christmas, the Mendota Holiday Classic on Dec. 27-30. The Hornets have games scheduled with Tranquillity (Dec. 27, 11:30 a.m.) and East Bakersfield (Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m.), and then two more games against opponents to be determined.

North Yosemite League play continues on Thursday, Dec. 21 with a 6:30 p.m. road game at Madera South (1-6, 0-1), which lost its league opener 69-51 at Sunnyside on Dec. 19.

Jon Earnest
Reporter