Despite a 52-41 loss in the regular-season finale that cost the Lady Warriors the outright South Yosemite League championship, Tehachapi was still awarded the fourth seed in the upcoming CIF Central Section Division II Playoffs and could have two home games in their quest for a CIF Championship.
It was far from a typical week: the Lady Warriors fought off illness, school closures and a postponement of their game with West before falling to the Vikings on Thursday, Feb. 7. Tehachapi struggled offensively, shooting just 32 percent from the field and 17 percent from three-point range. West, meanwhile, would score on four-consecutive three-pointers in the fourth quarter and nine total in the win which allowed West, Bakersfield Christian and Tehachapi to all share the SYL crown.
The Lady Warriors were led by Mady Cotta’s 13 points while Teagan Thurman chipped in 10 but was only 5-of-17 from the field and had to sit most of the second half due to foul trouble. Tehachapi, who had nearly half of the team sick at one point during the week, looked to be feeling the after-effects of the illness in the loss.
On Friday, however, Tehachapi learned they earned the No. 4 seed in the CIF Central Section Division II playoffs that will begin on Feb. 12 when the Lady Warriors host 13th-seeded Santa Maria High School. Tehachapi agreed to move the game time to 4:30 p.m. to allow Santa Maria to travel back so the students could go to class the following day. If the Lady Warriors win the first game, they would host the winner of 5th-seeded Redwood and 12-seeded Morro Bay on Thursday, Feb. 14.
Following a 47-45 victory over West, Tehachapi secured the No. 9 seed in the CIF Central Section Division III Playoffs but will have to play on the road starting at ninth-seeded Cesar Chavez on Feb. 13.
Last Thursday, Tehachapi managed to split the South Yosemite League series with the Vikings making up for the 55-52 loss in Tehachapi on Jan. 18 where the Warriors allowed an 11-point fourth quarter lead to evaporate. Chris Garcia, playing on an injured ankle from the Ridgeview game the prior week, scored 19 points while grabbing four rebounds and three steals in the win for Tehachapi.
The Warriors and Vikings were tied at 45 before Garcia scored on a mid-range jumper for the game-deciding basket.
“In the last few minutes we decided as a team that we would not lose another game,” said assistant coach Carson Bethany. “The young men knew that in a dogfight like that game, the team with the most heart would come out on top.”
Jarod Carol continued his strong shooting with a pair of clutch three-pointers to keep Tehachapi’s momentum rolling in the first half before he finished with 10 points. Ryan Jones added seven points while Riley Thompson dominated on the glass, pulling down 10 rebounds for the Warriors.
The Warriors finished the SYL schedule at 5-5 and in third place, matching their best finish in the league since joining in the 2014-15 season.
Tehachapi will now travel to Delano in the first round of the Division III playoffs to take on Cesar Chavez. The Titans defeated Tehachapi 61-60 in a wild Highway 58 Shootout Tournament game on Nov. 29.
“Chavez is a fast-paced pressing team that can knock down threes,” said Tehachapi head coach Moe Cramer. “I believe our defense will slow them up … we have won three straight, our momentum and spirit is at its highest.”
Junior varsity boys
The Braves concluded their season with a 62-53 win over West last Thursday behind 24 points from Brandon Neaderboamer.
Elijah Pete added 10 points for Tehachapi and Nathanial Webb had eight in the victory. The Braves finished the season 12-6 overall and 7-3 in the SYL.
Head coach Bruce Schkade wishes to extend his thanks to the players and parents for a great season.