Until this year, it had been a long time since the Pierce Bears had won a playoff game: nine years, to be exact. As one of the smallest schools in the Northern Section CIF Division IV, the Bears’ impressive run through the NSCIF D-IV bracket to the section championship ended with a 54-34 loss to the undefeated Corning Cardinals, a school with more than twice Pierce’s enrollment.
The Bears came into the section championship – their first appearance in a title game in 12 years – riding an eight-game win streak, but struggled early against the Cardinals. After falling behind 16-6 in the first quarter, the Bears found themselves down 31-14 at the half. Pierce was able to keep pace with Corning in the second half, but the gap proved too wide for the Bears to overcome, and Corning capped their undefeated season with a section title.
Starter Angel Hernandez scored 8 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, while Ramon Paiz added 6 points and Ben High had 4 points and 8 rebounds. Miguel Martinez and Gabs Villa each scored 5 points coming off the bench for the Bears.
Despite the loss, Pierce qualified for the CIF State Tournament by making it to the section final, earning the No. 14 seed. Pierce will travel to Vallejo today to face the No. 3 seed St. Patrick-St. Vincent Bruins (23-7), a team that lost in the North Coast Section Division IV semi-final to Lick-Wilmerding. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.