A potentially historic season for the Lady Warriors was given a shot in the arm with a pair of home playoff wins last week. Now, Tehachapi Lady Warriors have advanced to the CIF Central Section Division II semifinals for the first time ever, where they will face Bakersfield High on Tuesday.
The Lady Warriors (22-6) dispatched Santa Maria on Feb. 12, cruising to a 55-20 victory over the visiting Saints, who never led in the contest. Tehachapi’s defensive pressure was too much for Santa Maria, which relied heavily on three-point attempts but managed to convert just one in the loss. The Saints were held to just two points in the third quarter as Tehachapi extended what was a 17-point lead at halftime to a 32-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter.
Teagan Thurman scored 16 points and secured 13 rebounds while Emily Williams added 14 points for Tehachapi in the win.
“I feel like we were focused and ready for a dog fight and it just didn’t go that way,” said Tehachapi head coach Jimi Perkins.
Tehachapi then hosted fifth-ranked Redwood on Thursday night and the Lady Warriors used a pair of scoring runs and momentum shifts to control the Rangers in the second half on the way to a 58-49 victory. Tehachapi led by as many as 15 early in the fourth quarter before scaling back their offense and substituting bench players.
It was a balanced game for the Lady Warriors, who were forced to use a variety of offensive looks to break the full-court-press of the Rangers. Using Thurman as a point guard at times, Tehachapi was able to break through Redwood’s defense as three players scored in double figures in the win.
“Terrific game. I think our girls were prepared,” Perkins said. “Redwood, give a ton of credit to these girls, they came up here, they traveled a long way and they gave it everything they had and played a full game today.”
Thurman led THS with 15 points on 7-of-13 from the field. She also had 16 rebounds and eight assists in her multiple roles during the game. Aleiyah Bryant was strong off the bench for Tehachapi, scoring 11 points on a perfect 4-of-9 from the field while also pulling down nine rebounds. Mady Cotta scored 10 points for Tehachapi and junior guard Irey Sandholt contributed heavily on the glass, securing nine rebounds for the Lady Warriors.
“Our effort was great and I’m just super-proud of this group of ladies,” Perkins said. “This week has been amazing for us as a team, it’s been amazing for us as a community. The outpouring of support we’ve received from the community has been amazing.”
“The girls really feed on it and it’s a small-town vibe here and we love it,” Perkins said.
On two occasions with the Tehachapi lead just a few points, Redwood was called for technical fouls, one on head coach Jason Black and the second on the Redwood bench. Both stemmed from arguing with officials and followed a warning as well. Each technical foul resulted in at least a three-point swing for Tehachapi after free throws and field goals on the ensuing possession.
The Tehachapi win secures them a spot in the Central Section semifinals for the first time since the 2012-13 season. It is the first time that Tehachapi has appeared in the semifinals since joining the Division II ranks in the 2016-17 season. Tehachapi will travel to top-seeded BHS at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The winner will face the winner of second-seeded Yosemite and third-seeded Garces in the Division II Championship set for Friday at Selland Arena in Fresno.
The respectable season for the Warriors came to an end in the first round of the CIF Central Section Division III playoffs on Wednesday, Feb. 13, as Tehachapi fell 70-63 to eighth-seeded Chavez in Delano.
The Titans managed to have two players score more than 20 points in the victory while converting on 7-of-21 three-pointers. Tehachapi trailed by just two points at the end of the third quarter but were outscored in the final frame 16 to eight.
The Warriors ended the season 13-11 overall while finishing in third place at 5-5 in the very-competitive South Yosemite League