Corey Costelloe mug

Corey Costelloe

It’s time for the playoffs for girl’s basketball and, as expected, Tehachapi fetched one of the top seeds in the Division II ranks of the CIF Central Section. It's not as high as they deserve; somehow winning a league championship in Kern County isn’t as important as finishing second in a Fresno-based league, hence the flaws with the coaches' voting system, something the Central Section refuses to change.

However, Tehachapi is ranked much higher than many other teams that compete in the so-called “power league” of the Southwest Yosemite League, so I guess the Lady Warriors’ South Yosemite League title means something, and some coaches have paid attention.

The Lady Warriors are the three-seed, which means they’re guaranteed at least one home game and a first-round bye. Tehachapi awaits the winner of #6 Mission Prep out of San Luis Obispo and #11 Centennial, who will open the playoffs Wednesday. Tehachapi gets the winner on Friday night at 6 p.m.

That’s where you come in.

Last season some of Tehachapi’s best wins were as a result of a distinct home court advantage. Now it’s time to bring that advantage back as the playoffs begin. Clear the calendar on Friday night because it’s pretty obvious what needs to happen: you, your friends and your family need to be at Tehachapi High School for the start of what hopes to be a long playoff run.

A year ago, Tehachapi had to establish themselves as a threat in the CIF playoffs. A year later they have been recognized as one of the top teams with their 16-1 regular season and undefeated SYL championship.

They’ve lost only twice this season, both to powerhouse squads. The first was Oxnard on Dec. 28, Tehachapi’s third game in two days after a weather delay in the Arvin Tournament. The other was the loss to BHS in the championship of the South Yosemite Conference Tournament, a tourney that was put together during the gap week between regular season and playoffs starting. Tehachapi had a strong showing.

So, at 18-2 the Lady Warriors are no longer looking for respect; they’re demanding it. The team that is unfortunate to come into Tehachapi on Friday night needs to realize that they will be inheriting a full-fledged hostile environment. Good teams play, great fans support them. I don’t see any reason why that shouldn’t be the case Friday night.

It’s the playoffs and anything can happen, so it’s even more helpful when the community responds to this call to action by buying a couple of  tickets and packing our gymnasium. It makes a difference; believe me. Crowd energy is a living, breathing thing that can turn the simplest of plays into the biggest momentum shift that anyone has ever seen. Plus, as a fan, it’s just a lot of fun.

As someone who has been able to experience some of the greatest college hoops environments during his career, I was very impressed with the response a season ago from Tehachapi fans as the Lady Warriors established themselves as a threat. It was wild at times and game changing, it helped put Tehachapi hoops on the map.

Now, 12 months later, it’s time to cash in on that investment and help the Lady Warriors take that next step, hopefully one that includes cutting down nets in a week’s time in Fresno. The first step is Friday night; you won’t want to miss it.

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.

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