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Posted on Feb 4, 2019

A season of learning ends for the boys hoops team

A young squad of hoopsters closed a winless season with cautious optimism on Jan. 29.
The Jacks’ varsity boys basketball team lost to Toppenish, 75-50, only the third time all season that the Jacks’ scoring reached the mid-century mark.
On Senior Night, the Jacks honored Max Molina, Chris Quintero and Louis Merred, and then played what head coach Scott Bierlink termed a sluggish brand of basketball to start the contest, allowing the Wildcats to take a big early lead.
“We didn’t come out as sharp as I would have liked,” said Bierlink, a first-year coach for the Jacks after more than a decade as an assistant.
He then added, “I don’t know if it was effort-wise or execution, but I was a little disappointed at how we dug ourselves a hole and never could come out of it.”

Louis Merred drives to the basket surrounded by the gray jerseys of Toppenish players during the season finale for the Jacks boys basketball team on Jan. 29.
Photo by Sebastian Moraga/Post-Register

The last trio of games in the 2019 season started in promising fashion for the Jacks, who traveled to Ephrata on Jan. 26 and almost played spoilers for the Tigers’ Senior Night, hanging with the felines until the end, before yielding the game 73-65.
Felipe Zepeda and Aidan Heikes led the team with 19 points each. Molina had 15 points, Merred had seven, Mike Vega had four and Connor Donovan had one.
The intensity of the clash against the archrivals in their home finale in front of a packed house took a toll on the Jacks, who played on a lower gear the next night, at Othello’s Senior Night, losing 55-42.
Heikes led the team with 15 points, followed by Merred with 10, Molina with five, Donovan and Vega with four, Izaac Solano with three and Zepeda with one.
“I thought that if we came out like we did against Ephrata, we were going to win,” Bierlink said of the Othello game. “We didn’t match the intensity, and we didn’t hit shots.”
With his first season as team skipper in the books, Bierlink said the team improved throughout the season.
“From where we started at the beginning of the year to where we finished at the end of the year, we are a completely different team,” he said. “I’m really proud of that.”
On the other hand, he said, “We still have a helluva long ways to go, but we are headed in the right direction.”
The team will need a lot of work over the summer, in the weightroom and on the court, he said.
The fans should look forward to the growth of Felipe Zepeda, Heikes, Vega, Solano and Joahan.
Vega led the team in points against Toppenish with 14, followed by Merred with eight, Heikes and Molina with seven, Solano with five, four for Quintero, three for Andy Guerrero, and two for Donovan.
Better days lie ahead, Bierlink said.
“I got a good group of young guys who want to buy in, and at this point there’s only one way to go and that’s up,” he said, adding that the pipeline brings some promise as well as some height, which this year’s team needed.
“I got some eighth-graders that are pretty good,” he said. “ I got a seventh-grader who’s 6’3” at 12 years old. We’ve got a sixth-grade team and a fifth-grade team that has won a bunch of tournaments, so we got some good, young kids.”
He then joked, “It’s going to take some patience, which I don’t know if I have or not.”

By Sebastian Moraga,