The Tehachapi High School Lady Warriors completed their first perfect league season in 15 years with a pair of victories over Ridgeview and West last week, putting to rest the South Yosemite League portion of their schedule as the postseason awaits.
Tehachapi (15-1, 10-0 SYL) allowed a couple of late leads slip on Tuesday, Feb. 4 and had to dispatch Ridgeview in overtime 81-79 in what was their closest SYL contest of the season. Tehachapi had a five-point lead with just over two minutes to play before Ridgeview connected on a three-pointer to pull within two with 1:15 remaining. Tehachapi would convert on a two-pointer and a free-throw to take a 65-60 lead with 58 seconds remaining. The Wolf Pack, however, connected on another three-pointer before stealing the inbound pass for the second time in the final three minutes to score the game-tying basket that would force overtime.
In the extra period it was both Tehachapi’s experience and youth that would make a big impact as senior Teagan Thurman scored seven of her game-high 35 points fueled by two steals and a three-pointer. Freshman Laura LaMonte also converted on a three-pointer with Tehachapi trailing by a point. The Lady Warriors would not trail again in overtime after Thurman secured back-to-back steals, which led to Tehachapi baskets. Emily Williams connected on two free throws with just under seven seconds remaining to give Tehachapi a five-point lead. Ridgeview would make one final three-pointer in the final seconds.
“It was a great game with a playoff atmosphere," said Tehachapi head coach Jimi Perkins. “We’re finding out who we are without Irey Sandholt in the lineup and I was extremely happy with the effort and the never-quit attitude from my girls.”
Ridgeview was 9-of-26 from three-point range while Tehachapi converted on 6-of-12, including a pair in overtime. The Lady Warriors were 29-of-52 (56 percent) from the field and also had major contributions from Aleiyah Bryant with 15 points and Sara Heier with nine. The Wolf Pack were led by Journie Hayden’s 27 points.
On Thursday, Feb. 6, Tehachapi completed their perfect SYL schedule with a 57-16 win at West High School. Tehachapi built a 26-3 lead after the first quarter and never looked back in the rout that saw Thurman score 15 points and Ashley Neaderboamer contribute 10 on 5-of-7 from the field. The 10-0 league finish is a first during the Lady Warriors’ SYL tenure, the last time Tehachapi was unbeaten in league play was in 2004-05 season when they were a member of the South Sequoia League.
With seedings for the CIF Central Section Playoffs not set to be announced until Feb. 15, Tehachapi will join the schools in the other Yosemite Leagues in Kern County for the inaugural Yosemite Conference Tournament to be held this week. Tehachapi has received the #2 seed (behind top-seeded Bakersfield High.) All games are on the road at neutral sites with the championship game scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. at North High School. Given Tehachapi’s limited preseason schedule, a strong showing in this tournament could improve their CIF Central Section Division II playoff seed.
“This tourney should be a lot of fun; we get the chance to measure ourselves against the bigger schools in Bakersfield,” Perkins said. “We can use the extra games as a tool to prepare us for CIF, which is right around the corner.”