Jonathan Stradford did the heavy lifting and Michael Joaquin carried the scoring load to lead the Yucaipa High School basketball team to its first win of the season, a 61-54 decision over San Bernardino in a nonleague game last Tuesday.
Joaquin followed his 31-point effort against Palm Springs the day before by scoring 29 against San Bernardino High School. Stradford pulled down a remarkable 24 rebounds to go with ten points and five assists.
Joaquin connected on three of his seven 3’s within three minutes of the fourth quarter to give Yucaipa a 57-48 lead with three minutes left in the game. Joaquin, a junior did not play in the second quarter after drawing two quick fouls. Matt Theis picked up for Joaquin by hitting two, 3-pointers to help YHS to a 30-22 lead at the half.
“We hold everyone from 1-12 on our roster accountable,” said YHS coach James Simpson. “Matt Theis was one of those who came through for us.” Theis and Craig Haley are currently the only seniors on the roster. Senior Mikhail Torres could return from an injury later this season.
Joaquin provided more instant offense in the third quarter by scoring ten points in less than three minutes to give YHS its biggest lead at 44-28. The Cardinals made it interesting by getting within 51-57 with 57 seconds left but Matt Kraus, Stradford, and Joaquin made free throws to clinch the win.
“Tonight, we kept the rebounds and took smarter shots. We have other shooters besides myself and Michael (Joaquin). I’m seeing progress in our team,” said Stradford, who has the ability to grab rebounds despite being 6-foot-1. “It’s about timing and wanting the rebound.”
Simpson said he challenged Stradford to be more of a leader after the 67-53 loss to Palm Springs. He said Stradford accepted the challenge as witnessed by his all-around play. “If we are going to win, it will be with our defense,” said Simpson. “We played through our sloppy moments tonight and ultimately we finished the game strongly. We needed this today.”
Simpson called San Bernardino an athletic team with ability. Edward Kelly led the Cardinals with 17 points. Jaidyn Jones had 15 and Brian Conway added 12. “We should have won this game,” said Jones. “They are a shooting team.” Yucaipa’s Mitchell Carpenter had six points to go with ten rebounds. Kraus scored five of his seven points in the first quarter to provide YHS an early 16-10 lead.
The Thunderbirds traveled this week to play the Beaumont Tip-Off Classic tournament and returns home Dec. 17 to oppose Summit.