Reedley boys win 2nd straight at Carrasco tourney

Pirates follow up sluggish win over Avenel with 65-45 thumping of Liberty-Madera Ranchos in inaugural tournament honoring former RHS player and fallen Selma police officer

Reedley High’s Ryan Velasquez (3) avoids defensive pressure provided by Liberty-Madera Rancho’s Isaiah Gonzalez (1) during the second half of the Pirates’ 65-45 victory over Liberty-Madera Ranchos on the second day of the inaugural Gonzalo Carrasco Memorial Tournament at Reedley High on Jan. 4. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published January 5, 2024  • 
2:00 pm

REEDLEY – A young Reedley High boys basketball team kicked up its level of play considerably on the second day of the inaugural Gonzalo Carrasco Memorial Tournament.

Less than 36 hours after a frosty 29% shooting performance resulted in a sluggish 45-37 victory over Avenal High, the Pirates (8-9) capitalized on strong defense-to-offense much of the final three quarters against the Liberty High Hawks from Madera Ranchos to post a 65-45 rout at RHS gym Thursday night.

“We played a lot better today,” said Pirates coach Zeke Lyons, whose squad will try to make it three straight wins when it hosts Mt. Whitney (4-11) in a 6 p.m. tipoff on Friday, Jan. 5. “Avenal did a really great job with their zone, and we really struggled. Liberty came out and played man, and that kind of threw us and we had a slow start because of that.”

He added, “But we kind of found our rhythm and started playing for each other. And I was very proud of our guys. (But) we’ve got to get better and we’ve got to be able to turn people (with pressure).”

Reedley jumped to a 10-point lead after the opening quarter, as freshman shooting guard Ethan Canales drained a pair of 3-point baskets, hitting four in the half on his way to a game-high 20 points as the Pirates led 30-21 at the break. Reedley’s defensive pressure and trapping started taking a toll in the third quarter, with Reedley building the lead to 50-32 entering the final eight minutes.

Adrian Lopez added his lone triple in the quarter, finishing as second high scorer with 11 points. Ten different Pirates scored on the night with Ryan Velasquez, Alex Zuniga and Aiden McGregor all scoring six points. Nate Hermisilla was Liberty’s lone double figures scorer with 11 points.

“The four things we talk about all the time are effort, attitude, toughness and smarts,” Lyons said, “We never really question our guys’ effort; they come out and work really, really hard. Our attitude’s usually pretty good and was really good today. Our toughness is something that we’ve got to continue to work on.”

The coach said the team’s court smarts is the biggest challenge to improve on as it gains game experience.

“When we play smart, we’re a pretty darn good team,” he said, “But when we’re not playing smart is where you start to see us get exposed. So it’s a challenge. But almost all my guys have really only been playing basketball the last two years. We just need to continue to play a lot of basketball and play at game speed against game opponents and get game reps.”

The four-day tournament was established as a memorial to fallen Selma police officer Gonzalo Carrasco, who was fatally shot at age 24 while responding to a call on Jan. 31, 2023. Carrasco played basketball and volleyball for Reedley High and began his law enforcement career as a Reedley Police Explorer.

Sixteen teams are participating in the tourney, which concludes with seven games beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 6. Reedley will be playing Parlier High at 6 p.m. that night.

Jon Earnest