The Warriors won the scoring battle in the second, third and fourth quarter, but an early seven-point first quarter deficit proved to be the difference in a 46-45 defeat to Garces last Thursday evening.

Tehachapi (5-10) opened up with a quick 5-0 lead to start the game, but could not find an answer for Garces (8-7) center Isaiah Hughes down the stretch, who led all scorers with 28 points. The Warriors also had a hard time breaking the press, which led to easy transition baskets for the Rams.

“At times we don’t see the entire court and that is something we have to work on. Teams want to slow us down,” said head coach Louie Saavedra. “We need to look to make that one extra pass to be successful and take care of the ball.”

Mountain Basketball was down by as many as 10 points in the second half but chipped away at the Ram lead. With less than 15 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Warriors had possession and a chance for a game-winning score, but the Ram defense clamped down and did not allow Tehachapi to look good at the basket.

“We played our hearts out defensively but we can’t give second chance opportunities,” added Saavedra. “The offense did a good job with shot selection but they just weren’t falling. We need to execute the easy buckets, free throws, layups.”

Nathan Deaville finished with 12 points, going 4-5 at the free throw line and adding four rebounds. Trevor Medovitch tied for the game-high in points for Tehachapi with 12, adding three rebounds.

Riley Thomson led the team in rebounding with eight, adding three points and two assists. Chris Garcia also had five points and six rebounds, Jon Montgomery had five rebounds and Nate Pumphrey had three assists.

In late December, Tehachapi also participated in the Garces Holiday Classic, opening the tournament with a win over Nipomo 54-51 in overtime before falling in their next three games over Tulare Western (74-52), McLane (62-37) and Garces (47-36).

Scoring leaders in the three tournament losses were Adam Lomonaco and Jon Montgomery with 19 points each, followed closely by Medovitch (17), Deaville (15), Nathan Wight (14), Jarod Carol (13) and JJ Johnson (13). Wight and Montgomery led the team in rebounds with 14 each, while Montgomery had five assists, Carol and Chris Garcia each had three steals and Thomson had four blocks.

“We’ve had a bad stretch of losses but we told our guys to not hold their hands down. Time to get back into the lab, regroup and reset. We haven’t had a home game in over a month and limited practice. We just have to play team basketball and trust one another,” Saavedra said.

The Warriors will participate in their final non-league contest of the season this Tuesday, Jan. 9, against Highland at home, with a tip-off set for 6:30 p.m. League play will start this Thursday, Jan. 11 at Independence, with a 7 p.m. tip-off.

Statistical data provided by Dustin Pumphrey.