Corey Costelloe mug

Corey Costelloe

You can’t seem to count on the weather to coincide with the turning of the seasons these days. Call it climate change, global warming or just a shift in weather patterns. For me, I rely on the calendar to tell me when it’s basketball season, and while the month of November is reserved for turkeys and thanks, I’ll always know it as a time for hoops.

This week, the Tehachapi High School basketball seasons get underway and for the second-straight season, there’s a buzz about the programs. The girls’ varsity team will be opening the season on Friday night hosting Stockdale at 6:30 p.m. as they look to build on last year’s historic season. They were co-champions in the South Yosemite League for the first time. They were one lousy home performance from winning it outright, but allowed a late-season slip-up to derail supremacy. Nonetheless, their championship was historic.

They advanced to the semifinals of the CIF Central Section Division II playoffs where somehow, they met Bakersfield High School. Not sure how the Drillers manage to convince Central Section leadership that they should be in Division II in any sport, but as the Drillers want, the Central Section obliges. Fair? Not in any sense of the word, but you simply play who they put in front of you even when that team wins the Division II title and remains in the same division the following year.

Even after that loss, Tehachapi hosted a CIF State Playoff game and won for the first time in history, defeating Hillcrest out of Riverside 55-49. The Lady Warriors saw the historic season come to an end a few days later in a loss at Oak Park.

Still, the word was out: A team made up of mostly juniors and underclassmen made a little noise in the Kern County basketball world. They did so with a coach, Jimi Perkins, that few had heard of before the season started. He was given an opportunity after a series of circumstances pushed him into the limelight, and he shined. Now, all eyes are on 2019-20 with the majority of that team returning, losing only one regular starter to graduation. They’ll be tough to deal with and will have an immediate test with Stockdale this Friday night.

On the boy’s side, there is plenty of optimism as well. Head coach Moe Cramer brings back some talent from a season ago but is reloading a bit as well with nearly all of his starting lineup having graduated. It was a team that posted a 13-11 mark a year ago playing in the ultra-competitive SYL with the likes of Bakersfield Christian and Ridgeview. Tehachapi made the Central Section Division III playoffs, but lost in the first round, 70-63, at Cesar Chavez.

During the past several months, this current squad had a successful summer/fall campaign, recently going 3-1 at the Hanford Fall Classic tournament in September, defeating some very athletic teams and doing so without some of their crossover athletes who were playing football. Look for Tehachapi to rely on young talent and be loaded and sophomore and juniors who are expected to make an impact this season.

I touted the potential of Tehachapi basketball last season and the fans responded by making home games loud, uncomfortable for opponents and establishing a great atmosphere. Although home games are light during the months of November and December, I hope we can take what limited opportunities we have in these next few months to prepare for the league season in the new year and our weekly diet of home contests.

This Friday it’s the girl’s team hosting Stockdale. On the 19th of November, the boys host McFarland. It’s a great chance to preview the new season and take part in the continued building of our brand of Tehachapi basketball.

Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides in Tehachapi. He can be reached at corey.costelloe@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are his own.