For the first time in three years, the Williams Yellowjackets fell short of the championship at the annual Irene Wells Basketball Tournament in Maxwell.
Maxwell hosted the 67th tournament Dec. 11 through Saturday.
Eight teams competed for the champion title including Maxwell, Williams, Princeton, Faith Christian, Core Butte, Central Valley, Greenville and Los Molinos. A new winner was crowned champion Saturday as Central Valley topped out the Panthers with a 12-point score gap to be named tournament champions.
Since 2013, Maxwell has fallen short of the championship game. But that streak came to an end, as the Panthers clawed their way to the final game last Saturday. The hard fought journey to get there put Maxwell in a intra-county match against Princeton on Dec. 11.
Isaiah Cardenas, who was named to the all-tournament team, led the Panthers in scoring throughout the tournament, tallying a team high score of 41 points against Princeton, while averaging 20 plus in the second and third games.
Maxwell senior Trent Hendrix lead the defensive charge for the Panthers with a game high in rebounds in blocks against Princeton. Maxwell came away with the win and a 70-55 score.
“We have put in a lot of work,” Hendrix said. “When we play at a high level night in and night out, the work pays off.”
The Panthers led the duration of the second game against Faith Christian, with Trent Hendrix putting in the work for the defense with eight steals, four blocks and 14 rebounds.
Wyatt Hendrix aided in the win, placing 15 points towards the final score of 57-43. But the true test for Maxwell came Saturday night against Central Valley. The Panthers maintained a two-point lead over the Falcons until the mid-third quarter. Unable to sink free throws, Maxwell fell into an 18 point deficit. Cardenas aided by Wyatt Hendrix, closed the gap to 14. The Panthers ran out of time and the Falcons clinched their first Irene Wells Tournament title with a 50-30 final score.
“The clock just ran out on us,” said Head Coach Gustavo Rangel. “We needed to move and spread the ball around more but we played a tight defense against a much bigger team than us. Proud of my men and the growth they showed in this tournament.”
Williams took the win in the consolation round, racking in two wins over Princeton and Core Butte, for a fifth place finish.
Williams senior Mo Hernandez was named to the all-tournament team.
Princetons’s Elias Cervantes was named to the all-tournament team. The Eagles finished in the eighth position of the tournament. ■