Exeter serves Dinuba first league loss
The Exeter Monarchs (12-8, 3-2) invited the Dinuba Emperors (19-2, 5-1) to their home court Tuesday Feb. 4 for a Central Sequoia League match up. In a surprising victory the Monarchs handed the Emperors their second loss of the season and their first loss in league. Although Exeter and Dinuba may not be so unevenly matched as both teams participated in the Polly Wilhelmsen Tournament earlier in the season. While Dinuba won it all, Exeter came in second place.
Making the game even more of an improbable win, Exeter was facing a fully healthy Dinuba team of fifteen players while the Monarchs only had seven because of three injured teammates. Monarchs Head Coach Randy Reeder said about his injured team that “you’re dealt the cards you got so you play with ‘em…the only thing that worried me was the fatigue…[but] I thought we substituted at the right time.”
Dinuba opened up the first quarter scoring on an easy tip-in and a momentum grabbing three-pointer. However this was the only time Exeter trailed in the game.
The Exeter offense responded as Aaron Coehlo put the Monarchs first two points on the board. After a strong defensive stand Jorden Bayne added another two points followed by Caleb Harden going hard toward the basket, getting two points plus a foul to put the Monarchs up 5-7 in the middle of the quarter.
Despite the early five point run by Dinuba, the Monarchs responded nicely by pushing the ball up court to seize some open offensive opportunities.
Caleb Nickell added to Exeter’s offense by taking advantage of some open shots, scoring on a quick two pointer followed by a resounding three-pointer that firmly swung momentum the Monarchs way as they began to build on a 6-12 lead.
After a couple trips to the free-throw line for Dinuba Exeter’s Harvey Brito closed out the first phase of the game with a three point shot to put the Monarchs up 9-17.
Caleb Nickell opened up scoring in the second quarter by adding three points to his teams lead. However big plays were made on defense as well as Brandon Birones chased down Dinuba’s Xavier Jones who stole a Monarch pass and was headed to the basket. Brandon came from behind to knock the ball loose. While another Dinuba player picked up the ball and began to drive for the layup Brandon also took a charging foul to give the ball back to Monarchs with 6 minutes still left to play in the half.
The Emperors seemingly began to create some momentum midway through the quarter sinking a three point shot. But the Monarch’s Jorden Bayne responded quickly with a three of his own maintaining Exeter’s 12 point lead forcing the Emperors bench to call a timeout with 3:08 remaining in the half.
Dinuba began to chip away at the Monarchs lead heading into halftime as they were able to score five points to Exeter’s two setting the score at 21-28.
Dinuba came out of the half firing as they cut the Monarchs lead to two points in the first three minutes of the 3rd quarter. However the Monarchs were able to bounce back as the team began to play in rhythm.
Caleb Harden was able to extend the lead by two points while Caleb Nickell was able to stretch the Monarchs lead even further by hitting his third three pointer of the night setting the score at 30-37 at the 5 minute mark.
Following Nickell’s three point shot the Emperors responded with two points of their own. However the Monarchs extended their lead once again, going on a 12-4 run to close out the quarter with as score of 46-38.
Dinuba opened up the fourth quarter by sinking three shots from beyond the three point line. Exeter however was able to respond with points of their own after each one until the Monarch bench decided to call a timeout with 5:07 left in the game with Exeter leading 47-54.
After the timeout Caleb Nickell was able to put up two more points and extend the Monarchs lead to 9. Nickell attributed his production to “spending more hours in the gym hitting three’s…that’s all it is repetition and muscle memory.”
With 2:36 left in the game the Monarchs were able to extend their lead to eleven points. Clearly frustrated Dinuba’s Nerio Sanchez was not only called for a shooting foul but a technical foul as well leading to an additional four points to all but seal the Monarchs victory. After several time saving fouls by Dinuba and a couple three pointers the final score stood at 62-69 putting the Monarchs at 12-8 on the season and 3-2 in league.
Moving forward Coach Reeder said that his teams confidence coming out of this game “is huge but the thing is that everyone in our league is tough…and I’m hoping that [this win] might kick start [better play].”
Exeter clearly took the confidence of their win against Dinuba into the following home game on Friday Feb. 7 as they were able to pull out a 42-47 victory against the Selma Bears.
The Monarchs were able to get shots to fall and take advantage on steals and turnovers. Aaron Coehlo had several steals and was able to turn them into fast-break points.
Although late in the fourth quarter Selma seemed to get on a roll cutting the Monarchs lead to one until Harvey Brito extended Exeter’s lead to four, essentially putting the game out of Selma’s reach as the Bears had to save time by fouling.
Exeter will face the Immanuel Eagles for the second time this season tomorrow night in Reedley at 7:30 pm. Exeter hopes to avenge last games loss, as the Eagles bested the Monarchs by a score of 51-59.