Warriors boys basketball coach Louie Saavedra on the bench during during a game.

John Nelson / Tehachapi News

For the Warriors boys, the Kern Schools Shootout basketball tournament had two sets of results.

The first, and most obvious, was that they lost three out of four.

The second, and probably more important, result was that they were a better team for it, head coach Louie Saavedra said.

"This tournament helped us prepare for league," the coach said. "We lost some very close games, and we just couldn't finish.

"This tournament taught us a lot about ourselves."

The Warriors lost three games by a total of just 14 points in the tournament at Beardsley High School, their lone victory coming on Day Three on Friday, Dec. 9, over Garces, 61-55.

Their opening-day loss, on Wednesday, Dec. 7, was to Shafter, 54-51.

"It was a battle 'til the end," Saavedra said. "Our Warriors fought hard the entire game, up until the last few seconds when we had some miscommunication on defense."

Next day's loss, 53-47 to Bakersfield Christian, was another close one, but it didn't start out that way.

The Warriors started slowly, which has been a problem for them this season, and wound up trailing 24-6 at the end of the first quarter.

"Walking back to the bench, the boys held their heads low," Saavedra said. "I challenged them and asked them if they were ready to be coached, to communicate and play defense."

The Warriors took up the challenge, trailing by 13 at halftime, by eight at the end of the third quarter, and by two late in the game, "but we just couldn't finish," Saavedra said.

Jesus Sanchez led the Warriors with 22 points against BCHS.

Then came the Garces game victory.

"We started off strong and executed offensively and defensive," Saavedra said. "We never looked back."

On the final day of the tournament, Saturday, Dec. 10, the Warriors lost 55-50 to Monanche of Porterville. Much like the Shafter game, it was a back-and-forth battle until the end.

"We shot very poorly from the 3-point line, and our shooters were not following," the coach said, also noting that the Warriors made only 4-of-13 from the free throw line, more than the difference in the game.

Now, the Warriors (5-5) take a break until the Garces Holiday Hoops Challenge beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 27, with the South Yosemite League season soon to follow.

"Our chemistry as a team will continue to grow," Saavedra said. "We need to improve on handling the pressure and finishing games strong.

"We are Warriors for a reason, and we are going to battle every game, every minute, every second until the final buzzer."