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Garces boys basketball coach Brian Dignan knows the importance of a home-court advantage in the playoffs.
The second-seeded Rams host No. 3 Fresno-Hoover on Tuesday in the Central Section Division III semifinals at 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to the championships at 4 p.m. on Friday at Selland Arena in downtown Fresno.

Hoover is planning on bringing two rooter buses two hours down Highway 99 to the game and Garces expected a sold-out crowd. 

“We are fired up to be playing at home,” Dignan said. “We had a great crowd last game. The crowd definitely plays a part in home-court advantage in the playoffs. This being a semifinal game. I know our team is going to be ready. I know their team will come in here fired up. The crowd will play a part in the game. We are pumped to be at home.”

There will be two ticket gates open for the game with Hoover’s side being asked to enter on the north side of the main entrance to the gymnasium and Garces fans entering the south ticket gate.

This is the first semifinals appearance for Dignan as the Garces head coach. Dignan is now in his sixth season as head coach for the Rams (21-9).

This is also the first semifinal appearance for Garces since 2013. The winner will play either No. 1 Bakersfield Christian or No. 4 Sanger in the finals on Friday. 

Four Rams scored in double figures in the 76-49 win over No. 7 Chavez in the quarterfinals. 

Garces has won six consecutive games in the previous two weeks and has won 11 of the past 13 games heading into Tuesday.

Junior forward J.J. Uphold leads the team in scoring (12.2) points and rebounds (9.1) while senior guard Jack Hatten (11.3) and junior guard Ipreye Egbe (10.6) also average double figure scoring for the Rams.

But Dignan knows that on any given night, a fresh face can be the leading scorer depending on matchups and opportunities with Xavier Marshall, Dom D’Amato, Nathaniel St. Claire and Joseph Campbell all with double digit scoring nights this season.

“We haven’t relied on one guy offensively all year,” Dignan said. “It’s always been someone different stepping up.”

Hoover (21-8) tied for the North Yosemite League title this season and defeated No. 6 Dinuba 52-44 in the quarterfinals. 

“Hoover plays really aggressive and has really good guard play,” Dignan said. “Very athletic across the board. They are going to give us some challenges, but we are going to give them some challenges too in terms of matchups.”

With Tuesday’s game being the last guaranteed home game this season, Dignan isn’t taking anything for granted. 

“I love coaching them,” Dignan said. “They are great people, first. We just have to go out and play to our strengths on both sides of the ball and the game will take care of itself.”

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