The Warriors went into the Shafter Play with Honor Tournament with a 2-3 record, three straight losses and a mission.

They came out of it with a 6-4 record, second place in the tournament and their mission accomplished.

"Overall, the tournament was a success," coach Jacques Vachon said. "We won over every Division II and III team we faced, and we finished with a strong 4-1 record."

And much of it was done without the team's captain and only senior, Fiona Ferry, who sat out the first day of the tournament entirely with a stomach virus that left her dehydrated.

After a 46-38 loss at home to Burroughs on Tuesday, Dec. 6, Ferry threw down the gauntlet.

"We expect and hope to learn a lot from the tournament," she said. "If we don't, we'll be in trouble. League is coming soon, so we'd better get it done now."

Ferry led her team with 16 points against Burroughs, but she did not play at all as the Warriors began the Shafter tournament with a pair of first-day victories on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

They beat South 37-33 as junior Stephanie Suarez and  freshmen Irey Sandholdt and Emily Williams took over the offensive load for Ferry, and Keily Corpus, Mady Cotta and freshman Teagan Thurman dominated the boards.

Corpus scored 17 points and Cotta had 15 as the Warriors beat Garces 62-42 in the second game that day. Stephanie Suarez and Thurman added 11 apiece.

"We really have a love for this game and a lot of heart," said Corpus, a junior and one of only three returning varsity players. "We're playing a lot of games and learning a lot."

The next day, in their third game of the tournament, the Warriors beat Hanford West 40-27.

"I have never played a dirtier team," Vachon said. "They were in foul trouble most of the game."

Cotta averted what could have been serious injury when she was fouled from behind and slammed into the wall on a fastbreak with the Warriors leading handily.

"Thank God her neck twisted to the side so she avoided severe damage," Vachon said. "Mady, as strong as she is, refused to leave the game, made her two free throws and closed the game for us."

The Hanford West player who committed the foul was ejected and suspended from the rest of the tournament.

The victory sent Tehachapi into the tournament semifinals on Friday, Dec. 9, against host Shafter.

Ferry returned to the lineup full time in the semis and led the Warriors to a 35-29 victory, sending Tehachapi into the title game against Stockdale on Saturday, Dec. 10.

The Warriors kept Stockdale close during the first half and were just 8 points back with less than five minutes left.

But by that time, Vachon said, his Warriors girls "were spent." Stockdale went on a run, and won 61-35.

"The first half was one of the best we've played this year, and I think now we have a solid base to build from," the coach said.

Ferry and Cotta were selected as all-tournament players, with Corpus just missing out.

The Warriors are now off until Tuesday, Dec. 27, when they begin play in the Arvin Holiday Showcase.

Sports Writer, Tehachapi News