I’m happy to report that both Tehachapi varsity basketball teams managed to live up to some of the hype I was throwing their way last week as the season opened. Believe me, I usually have the opposite effect on these sorts of things, so when the Warriors went 2-2 on the week and the Lady Warriors went 5-1, I chalked that up to success.
It’s still early in the season but posting even a .500 record in a four-game week as was the case with the varsity boys is pretty astonishing. That’s a lot of games, especially given the Warriors’ aggressive defensive style and pace of play. It’s these early season tests, however, that help lay both the physical and mental groundwork for later in the season when the games really matter.
Somehow the Lady Warriors managed to play six games this past week. Oh, to be young again. This, too, is impressive as their defensive pressure and speed is cranked up just as high as their male counterparts. That's a 5-1 mark for them and a second-place finish at the Highland-Centennial Tournament. They even managed to beat Centennial twice in one week. It’s tough to beat the same team twice in one season, let alone twice within three days. Hats off, indeed.
The big news in my eyes is that both teams managed to win their respective home openers. The Warriors on Tuesday night shook off some first-half rust to pull away from Kennedy late. It was a balanced scoring effort for Tehachapi and it was capped off with Kennedy head coach Luis Padilla giving the OK for a late substitution for Aaron Swain, who I wrote about a few weeks ago. Swain managed to score the game’s final basket. It was a class move from both teams.
The Lady Warriors managed a similar home opening win as well. After dealing with some turnover issues in the first half, they took control at the end of the third quarter and never looked back in their first of two wins over Centennial. Sitting courtside, I enjoyed the mental chess match between Tehachapi acting head coach Jimi Perkins and Centennial head coach Amy Hall. Both have brilliant basketball minds and answered one another step by step.
Yes, I found myself in another familiar position, courtside at a basketball game with a microphone in front of me and a scorebook at my side. For someone who considers himself “retired” from sports journalism, I’m sure finding ways to allow it to creep back into my spare time. Believe me, if it wasn’t Tehachapi the story might be different, but to me it’s as much of a civic duty to cover these games as it is a professional one.
Basketball has literally taken me all over the country and provided me with experiences I will never forget. However, there’s something different about walking into our gym to work a game. Maybe I dig that "Cheers" vibe; maybe I just want to go where everybody knows your name. I’m sure I’ll put my finger on the feeling at some point before the season is over.
I’m blessed to be a part of several professional circles and I’m pretty sure basketball in some form or another will always be an active one. So, let’s hope the momentum continues and these young men and women continue to put an entertaining product on the floor while helping keep this Warrior sports junkie occupied in his free time. Some things are simply too tough to quit cold turkey.
Corey Costelloe has covered the NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides and works in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.