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Garces downs Chavez, Rams to host D-III semifinals on Tuesday

The work the Garces Memorial boys basketball team put in to ensure the maximum amount of home games in the Central Section playoffs has paid off.

The 2nd-seeded Rams took an early lead and never looked back in a 75-49 win over No. 7 Chavez in the Division III quarterfinals on Thursday.

The Rams will host either No. 3 Fresno-Hoover on Tuesday with a shot at the D-III title game on Feb. 28 at Selland Arena in downtown Fresno on the line.

“This is really exciting. The boys played to their abilities defensively and offensively,” Garces coach Brian Dignan said. “That’s what we expect of them and what they expect of each other. In a big versus a really good opponent in Chavez, who we have a ton of respect for, it was fantastic.”

Chavez jumped out first on the second possession of the game before Xavier Marshall hit two of the Rams (21-9) five 3-pointers in the first quarter.

The Rams went on a 13-2 run and led 38-22 at the half.

Garces didn’t let up, starting the third quarter on a 8-0 run to start the second half, extending the lead to 21 points.

“We have some stretches where we have had a lead against some really good teams and had a lull in the third quarter,” Dignan said. “We really have worked on it all season and mentally, it showed tonight.” 

Dom D’Amato scored six consecutive points in the fourth quarter, building a 65-37 lead before Dignan cleared the bench. 

“We learned a lot from out last win when we came out really flat (against West in the first round),” Garces junior J.J. Uphold said. “So this time we tried to put more emphasis on our defense and we came together as a team and got the win.”

D’Amato led Garces with 18 points in the second win over Chavez this season after the Rams beat the Titans in the title game of the Garces Elite Eight in January.

Uphold added 16 points and added 12 rebounds. Marshall (15 points) and Ipreye Egbe (13) also scored in double figures. 

Central Section Division III quarterfinals

No. 2 Garces 75, No. 7 Chavez 49

GMHS (21-9): Sevier 2, D’Amato 18, Hatten 3, Uphold 16, St.Claire 6, Egbe 13, Perry 2, Marshall 15.

CCHS (23-7): Mercado 9, Carranza 16, Lopez 1, Arrendondo 12, Williams 3, Acosta 5, Garza 3.

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