The Tehachapi Lady Warriors opened the 2019-20 varsity basketball season showcasing a suffocating defense leading to multiple offensive opportunities in a runaway 57-17 victory over Stockdale Friday night at Tehachapi High School.
The Lady Warriors’ defense managed to pressure the ball consistently, breaking up nearly every Stockdale pass, disrupting the Mustangs’ offense while allowing just five total field goals in their first victory over Stockdale since the 1997-98 season.
“I’m extremely excited about the effort I got from the entire team, most importantly defensively,” said head coach Jimi Perkins. “They made the decision today to work hard on defense; we have a talented team, offense comes but just them making the conscience decision to play defense every time down the court and box out, it got us into transition and got us a lot of easy baskets.”
The forced turnovers allowed the Lady Warriors to shoot high-percentage shots as Tehachapi built a 19-2 first quarter lead behind 11 points from Teagan Thurman. The senior forward knocked down three three-point field goals in the opening quarter as Tehachapi took advantage of Stockdale’s struggles. Thurman led all scorers with 19 points while senior guard Irey Sandholdt also finished in double figures with 12 points for the Lady Warriors, six of which came in the second quarter as Tehachapi built a 34-12 lead at halftime. Stockdale didn’t record their first field goal in the game until the 7:32 mark of the second quarter.
“Defense is definitely what we’ve prided ourselves on,” Thurman said. “Everybody knows who we are now from last year’s season so definitely it is important, that’s what we’ve been working on in practice along with communicating with each other.”
The second half started strong for Tehachapi as well when Thurman and Sandholdt caused three straight turnovers and accounted for the first eight points of the second half for Tehachapi. With a 40-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, per CIF rules, a running clock was instituted in which both teams scored just one point in the final frame. Tehachapi also played without starting senior guard Emily Williams, who was ill and did not suit up.
Newcomer sophomore guard Ashley Neaderbaomer scored eight points for Tehachapi off the bench while junior guard Sara Heier chipped in with six in the victory that saw nine different players score for the Lady Warriors.
Five of those scorers were playing their first varsity game for Tehachapi. Joining Neaderbaomer in recording their first career points were Laura Lamonte who scored four, sophomores Hannah Poulson and Tess Loken who each scored a pair and freshman forward Trista Diefenderfer who converted one free throw for Tehachapi.
With a solid mix of returners from last season’s state playoff-qualifying team, Perkins is optimistic about Tehachapi’s depth moving forward.
“With the younger kids I’ve just been telling them not to try to do too much and giving them one role, one job to do,” Perkins said. “If they’re able to do their job, I’m able to enlarge their role and just with their ability and willingness to play defense and take care of the ball it makes my job really easy.”
The Lady Warriors will be off for two weeks before returning to action at home on Dec. 3 against McFarland. That game is scheduled to tip off at 6:30 p.m. or shortly after the junior varsity contest.