Wednesday, Feb 27 2013 10:37 PM

Garces handles Lemoore, earns trip to D-II title game

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special toThe Californian

    Garces vs Lemoore Boys Hoops

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special toThe Californian

    Garces vs Lemoore Boys Hoops Croney Sheldon #1 from Garces gets up for two against Lemoore's #3 Devon Loftin.

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special toThe Californian

    Garces vs Lemoore Boys Hoops #15 Tim Pena from Garces makes two over a Lemoore opponent.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer

It's was the Garces boys basketball blueprint, all over again: Lean on a couple of star players, let your role players out-work everybody on the court and reach a Central Section championship game.

For the 16th time in school history, the Rams are going to Valley after a 65-49 wire-to-wire home win over Lemoore in the section Division II semifinals on Wednesday night.

"It's all part of our recipe," said Garces coach Gino Lacava. "We're fortunate when we have stars, but all of our kids know their role really well. They each have two to three roles they play each game, and they generally take care of them. They did it really well tonight."

No. 2 seed Garces (20-8) will play No. 5 Hanford West (18-12) at 8 p.m. Friday in Fresno's Selland Arena for the D-II title. They'll be looking for their 12th title, according to section historian Bob Barnett, but it's the Rams' first trip since 2009, when they beat Liberty for the D-II crown.

"It means everything," junior Rashad Jackson said. "I've been trying to get here every year, and we finally made it."

As usual, the headliners were Jackson, with 21 points and 16 rebounds; and sophomore Sheldon Croney, who finished with 19 points and 7 boards.

But Garces, which took control with a 10-0 run to begin the second half and never led by fewer than nine after that, got so much more from its less heralded players.

Justin Gapper hit three important 3-pointers, including a dagger that stretched the lead to 13 with less than three minutes left. Tim Pena scored 13 points, and smooth ball-handling from Pena, Eric Parra and Matt Layton was instrumental in beating Lemoore's full-court pressure.

"Everybody has a job to do, and everybody has to come hard, and they did it tonight," Jackson said.

Garces, despite a significant disadvantage in size, had five players collect at least five rebounds and enjoyed a 45-29 edge on the glass.

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