10 days after deadly fire, Porterville Panthers help community find joy amid tragedy

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's championship weekend for the Valley's local sports teams, with twelve title games going on on Friday and Saturday at Selland Arena.

For Porterville's girls' basketball team, Friday wasn't just about the D-3 Valley title but more about their community coming together and finding joy in basketball during a difficult time.

A little more than a week ago, the city lost two firefighters in a massive blaze that tore through its library.

RELATED: Porterville firefighters died trying to save others inside burning library

Head coach of the Porterville Panthers, David Kavern, says it been a very difficult week for his team as they prepared for their championship game against Arvin.

"Several of our kids knew the firefighters or are associated with the police, or fire department. The basketball has been sort of a relief for the kids but it's been on our minds since the fire happened," says Kavern.

Many parents of the Panthers players arrived at Selland Arena right after attending the procession on Friday morning for Fire Captain Ray Figueroa and firefighter Patrick Jones.
RELATED: Final procession, memorial service held for fallen Porterville firefighters

"I think the community can focus on something positive now, we're 30-2, a bright light during a tough time," says Kavern.

The Panthers wore red ribbons on their warm-ups before tip-off to honor the two firefighters.

Porterville was welcomed by a big crowd ready to cheer them on.

Porterville triumphs on a busy day of section finals at Selland Arena

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Friday 2/28

High School Basketball Finals at Selland Arena

D-V Girls: Strathmore 39- 43 East
D-V Boys: Fowler 73-76 Fresno Christian (F/2OT)
D-III Girls: Porterville 65-39 Arvin
D-III Boys: Bakersfield Christian 62-44 Hoover
6:00 PM - Bakersfield v. Arroyo Grande (D-1 Girls)
8:00 PM - Clovis East v. Bullard (D-I Boys)

Saturday 2/23

High School Basketball Finals at Selland Arena

10:00 AM - Sierra Pacific v. Caruthers (D-IV Girls)
12:00 PM - Kingsburg v. Delano (D-IV Boys)
2:00 PM - SJM v. Mission Prep (D-II Girls)
4:00 PM - Redwood v. Independence (Bakersfield) (D-II Boys)
6:00 PM - Clovis North vs Clovis West (Open Division Girls)
8:00 PM - San Joaquin Memorial vs Clovis West (Open Division Boys)
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