The Lady Warriors needed three wins in four days last week to clinch the program’s first outright South Yosemite League championship, a difficult task that presented a list of challenges.
But, as they have all season, Tehachapi answered the bell, capping the week with a 58-40 win at home against Golden Valley to secure the SYL title. Unlike a season ago, Tehachapi’s dominance in league play has guaranteed they won’t be sharing this championship with anyone else.
“Busy week. I know the girls are tired, a couple of them under the weather. It was good to get out here, stretch our legs a little bit and get the whole team involved and clinch the title; we’re excited,” said head coach Jimi Perkins.
Tehachapi opened the week with a makeup game at Ridgeview on Monday, Jan. 27. Tehachapi was led by Teagan Thurman’s 26 points on 12-of-26 from the field. The senior forward also recorded a pair of three pointers, 16 rebounds and seven assists. Aleiyah Bryant scored 12 while grabbing nine rebounds and securing four of Tehachapi’s 20 steals in the victory.
Tehachapi led 37-27 at the half and were limited to just eight points in the third quarter but held the Wolf Pack to just seven of their own points in the frame. Tehachapi then outscored Ridgeview 20-19 in the fourth quarter, maintaining a healthy lead in the win.
The next night Tehachapi was on the road again taking on Bakersfield Christian. The Eagles were looking for revenge after being dismantled 81-32 in their first meeting and would put up a much better fight this time at home. Tehachapi trailed at halftime 32-30, as the Eagles matched their entire game point total from the first meeting while the Lady Warriors were down at half for just the second time this season.
Bakersfield Christian took advantage of the unfamiliar territory, stretching their lead to nine points in the third quarter outscoring Tehachapi 24-17 for a 56-47 lead to start the fourth. Despite not being in this position very often this season, the Lady Warriors clipped the Eagles in the final quarter, outscoring them 25-5 and limiting the Eagles to just three points in the final six minutes of the game.
Thurman recorded a triple-double for Tehachapi, leading the team with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 13 steals. Senior guard Emily Williams scored 18 including a pair of critical baskets to end the third quarter to cut the BCHS lead and then a three-pointer with just over a minute to play that extended the Tehachapi lead to six points. Williams was 6-of-12 from the field, 2-of-3 from three-point range and grabbed seven rebounds.
Senior guard Irey Sandholt was injured in the Ridgeview game and did not suit up for Tehachapi. In her place, freshman Laura LaMonte scored 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting. She also had nine steals as the Lady Warriors recorded 28 as a team in the win.
Thursday night’s home game against Golden Valley brought a set of new challenges to the table for Tehachapi. Playing once again without Sandholt and hit with an illness affecting a couple of players including Thurman, the team’s leading scorer, Tehachapi never trailed in the game, built a 29-15 halftime lead and closed out their first outright SYL title leaving little doubt.
Even at less than 100-percent Thurman led Tehachapi with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting while pulling down eight rebounds. Bryant added nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds while Williams and Ashley Neaderboamer each scored eight in the victory. Tehachapi shot 54 percent from the field in the win that secured them the league title, but according to Perkins, that isn’t the end goal.
“I’m just keeping my foot on the throttle so to speak. I don’t want to settle; our jobs aren’t done yet,” he said. “At the very beginning of the season we had a bigger goal. We want to go far in state and that’s our goal. Winning our league is definitely an accomplishment for us and is good. I want them to enjoy it, give them a couple days off, get healthy and we’re going to be right back at the table getting ready for Ridgeview on Tuesday.”
Tehachapi has two regular-season games remaining this week, hosting Ridgeview on Tuesday, Feb. 4 before finishing the league schedule at West on Feb. 6. The seeding for the Central Section Division II Playoffs will occur on Saturday, Feb. 15 with games starting the following week. Tehachapi is expected to receive a high seed and at least one home playoff game.