Dom D’Amato’s two biggest points in Tuesday’s South Yosemite Conference quarterfinals at Centennial came in the waning moments for Garces boys basketball team.
D’Amato, who led the Rams with 20 points, sank two crucial free throws with 12.4 seconds to play and Garces withheld a virtual road game at Centennial with a 68-65 victory over the Golden Hawks.
The two teams battled in a see-saw fourth quarter that had four lead changes, but Centennial held a 61-56 lead with 4:39 left before D’Amato reeled off six consecutive points for Garces (17-9).
His final two points put the Rams up three and Centennial couldn’t convert on a last-second 3-point attempt.
“Dom’s been our warrior all year long,” Garces coach Brian Dignan said. “He doesn’t need the credit. He doesn’t want the credit. He is just a competitor. But it’s great to see him have a great night, stat-wise in a big game.”
Garces will play Bakersfield Christian at 5 p.m. in the semifinals at the new gym at North High.
North will play Bakersfield High in the other semifinals at 8 p.m. tomorrow night. The finals are set for 8 p.m. on Thursday at North.
“We played really strong, solid defense,” D’Amato said of the second win over Centennial in the last 12 days. “Our offense executed very well and we came out in transition and made free throws. That’s how we ended up winning this game.”
J.J. Uphold, who was one of four Rams to score in double figures, hit two free throws with 44.1 seconds left to give Garces the go-ahead lead at 66-65.
Garces was successful on 18 of 21 from the free-throw line (85.7 percent).
Ipreye Egbe had 15 points for Garces while Jack Hatten added 12 and Uphold scored 10.
The last time Garces faced BCHS in a 52-47 road loss to the Eagles, who are ranked No. 1 in the Central Section Division III playoff rankings by MaxPreps. Just three spots ahead of the Rams with just three days until the playoff brackets are announced Saturday afternoon.