Miners extend win streak with victory over Mt. Whitney
El Diamante moves to 3-0 in WYL, Mt. Whitney falls to 2-1
By Jermaine Johnson II @Jerm_10
VISALIA – Two West Yosemite League powerhouses met in El Diamante, as the 12-3 Miners hosted the 17-2 Pioneers.
Both teams were 2-0 in the league and are looking to make a strong fight for league champion. In the end, the Miners capitalized on their opponent’s mistakes, as they won the matchup 16-8.
“We made a lot of errors. That’s a maturity issue,” said Mt. Whitney head coach Michael Yenigues. “We needed a game like this from a big competitor that could make us pay for making dumb mistakes.”
The game was close after the first quarter, as El Diamante led 3-2. They went on to outscore the Pioneers 6-3 in the second quarter to take a 9-5 lead heading into halftime. This deficit proved to be too much for Mt. Whitney to handle, as they ran out of gas during their comeback effort.
“I feel like they didn’t play to the best of their ability. Sometimes you get away with that with a weaker team but with a great team you have to have your best day and they didn’t have that.” Yenigues said in reference to his team. “We always like to pride ourselves on coming back and fighting hard in the fourth but we didn’t have anything left in the tank.”
His team was outscored 7-3 in the second half, and they only scored one point in the fourth quarter.
Despite the losing effort, Coach Yenigues deems these games as crucial for the growth of his team.
“I don’t want them to peak right now and then get to the playoffs and think they’re great,” he said. “This is a great time of year to realize that there are other teams that are better than you.”
Nonetheless, Yenigues is aware that a lot of the games his players will play in the West Yosemite League will be against championship caliber teams from higher divisions. That level of competition will aid them in their quest for a Division III Valley Championship run.
As for El Diamante, this win was their tenth in a row. After a tough loss to Garces Memorial in last year’s Valley Championship, they are ready to make another run at the title. But for now, they have one goal in mind.
“Our only mindset is really on Redwood,” Miner head coach David Mitchell said. “We prepare and practice to play Redwood. That is our main competition and that is who we’re going for in the end.”
Redwood is the only Division I team in the WYL and they haven’t lost a league game in nearly three years.
Although they got the win, Mitchell knows that his team still has work to do.
“The first quarter was sloppy. One of the things we need to work on is coming out stronger and not waiting until the second half,” said Mitchell. “Teams like Redwood or other teams in the playoffs are going to come out strong and we don’t want to slip up and lose.”
They are led by captains Robert Perez and Colin Chase who have combined for over 117 goals.
“They help the game move because they talk, they move the ball around, they know how to play the game and they help their other teammates,” Mitchell said.