When it was time for some “Immanuel magic,” Jordan Rodriguez and his teammates delivered to keep the Eagles’ hopes alive for sixth consecutive Central Section basketball championship.
The senior guard helped his team wipe out a seven-point deficit with a little more than two minutes remaining by draining a pair of 3-pointers and later two free throws, then played a big role in a late Tulare Western High turnover as Immanuel (20-8) held on for a 66-64 triumph over the Mustangs in a Feb. 15 quarterfinal matchup at a loud Immanuel gym.
The stirring comeback enabled the Eagles to advance to the section semifinals on Feb. 20 against No. 6 seed North, which upended third-seeded Sanger High on Feb. 15. A victory there would send Immanuel to Fresno''s Selland Arena at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, against the winner of the Feb. 20 semifinal between No. 8 Chavez and No. 4 Dinuba. "My shots weren't falling, but deep down inside we know what we could do," said Rodriguez, who hit consecutive three-point baskets to cut the deficit to 62-61 with less than two minutes to play. "So our shots started falling, and we knew we could come back."
After a miss by Tulare Western, guard Landon Yamada drained a three-pointer from the wing 1:30 to play to give Immanuel its first lead since the opening quarter. Rodriguez drained two free throws – on a night when the Eagles struggled to hit half of their foul shots — to build the lead to three.
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