Shannon Ferguson was feeling it.
In the final non-league game before Southeast Yosemite League resumes next week, the North senior scored a career-high 40 points on Thursday as the Stars beat Garces at home, 70-59.
The game could be a precursor of a Central Section Division III playoff matchup next month.
“It was so loud in here with a lot of people in here. It felt like a playoff atmosphere,” Ferguson said. “It was a big win. We had some adversity, but we came back from it. It was a huge win. I feel it every game, especially if I hit a few shots.”
That’s exactly what Ferguson did after connecting on six 3-pointers, making short jump shots and driving to the rim with authority.
Garces took a 56-54 lead with a little more than four minutes remaining in the game on a layup by Isaiah Hughes, who scored team-high 21 points. North answered when Larry Atkerson scored on a put-back, however. From there, Ferguson scored 11 of the final 14 points for the Stars (7-9) during a 16-0 run to close things out.
“Shannon is one of the premier players in the area,” North first-year coach A.J. Shearon said. “With his size and athleticism, he’s such a great attacking player. But when he shoots it like he did tonight, he’s really tough to guard. That’s what we come to expect of him. Maybe not 40, but he’s our leader.”
North stormed out to a 19-11 lead after the first quarter but Garces cut the lead to four at halftime and Hughes scored the first eight points in third for the Rams (11-8).
Nick Sill hit a 3-pointer as time expired in the quarter as Garces took a 49-48 lead. North outscored the Rams 31-11 in the fourth, however.
“We’ve scheduled intentionally to rep these types of environments,” Shearon said of the playoff-like atmosphere and setting. “Credit to coach (Brian Dignan) for bringing his kids over here during the break and putting in a really good D-III battle here. This is exactly what we want, and that’s to be battle tested going into league and playoffs and hopefully have some experience for those environments.”
Jack Hatten scored 12 points for Garces.
Atkerson added nine points for the Stars while Robert Thompson put in eight.