The Tehachapi High School Lady Warriors opened the defense of last season’s South Yosemite League championship with a 2-0 start during the first week of league play, defeating Independence 69-44 on Jan. 7 before crushing Bakersfield Christian 81-32 two days later.

“It’s always important to get off to a quick start, especially in a league as competitive as ours,” said Tehachapi head coach Jimi Perkins. “We have all the respect for our league and our opponents, with the things that have been happening here amongst our school, it’s really important for our confidence and just a huge boost to get going in this direction. Hopefully it will carry through.”

Tehachapi secured their first SYL win of the 2020 season with Tuesday’s victory over Independence in which senior forward Teagan Thurman led the Lady Warriors with 27 points on 11 of 22 from the field and 3-of-10 from three-point range while also grabbing nine rebounds. Thurman scored 13 in the third quarter and converted a pair of three-point field goals as Tehachapi put the game on ice following a 35-20 halftime lead. Aaleiyah Bryant added 10 for Tehachapi who had nine different players score in the victory while converting on 5-of-7 from the field. The Lady Warriors were credited with 26 assists to just nine turnovers in the well-rounded victory.

On Jan. 10 the Lady Warriors met Bakersfield Christian in what was anticipated to be a key SYL matchup between two of the three teams that shared last season’s league crown. However, despite dealing with personal tragedy off the court, the Lady Warriors showed up in force, dominating the Eagles in a 81-32 victory. Tehachapi opened the game on a 12-0 run forcing four BCHS turnovers while taking a 30-8 lead at the end of the quarter.

“As a group I couldn’t be happier. They represented themselves well tonight,” said Perkins. “A lot of hard work has gone into changing the way we approach the game and just the difficulties that they’re going through, the way they stepped up and glued together was amazing for me to see.”

Thurman led the Lady Warriors with 25 points on 11-of-25 from the field including 10 points in the first quarter while Emily Williams added six of her 15 points in the first as Tehachapi firmly took control of the Eagles. Tehachapi led 45-18 at halftime and held Bakersfield Christian to just 14 second-half points in the victory. Williams was 6-of-8 from the field for Tehachapi. Bryant chipped in with nine for Tehachapi and was responsible for guarding senior all-league center Dami Sule, who entered the game leading the Eagles in scoring but was held to just six points by Bryant’s defensive efforts.

“In practice we’ve been working on playing defense without any hands and on top of that I gave Aaleiyah Bryan the challenge of guarding Dami, who is a first-team all-league player and an absolute stud,” Perkins said. “Nothing but credit to her and her program. They’re a class-act, but I was excited to see Aaleiyah take the challenge and really try to put herself in the category of an all-league player.”

Tehachapi’s defense in total was a problem for BCHS, which were unable to establish a post presence, settling for low percentage outside shots while Tehachapi converted on 48 percent of their field goal attempts while pulling down 45 rebounds in the victory. For the second-consecutive contest, Tehachapi dished out 21 assists while also recording 22 steals and limited turnovers to just 13.

The Lady Warriors improved to 7-1 on the season overall and will head out on the road this week for a pair of SYL contests. On Tuesday, Jan. 14 Tehachapi will be at Golden Valley, which is 1-1 in the SYL following a win over Independence and a loss to Ridgeview. The Lady Warriors will then play at Ridgeview on Thursday, Jan. 16. The Wolf Pack are 2-0 in league play as well after their win over Golden Valley and Independence. Both contests this week are scheduled to tip off at 6:30 p.m.