FRESNO — Bakersfield Christian boys basketball coach Kyle Shiloh knew there would come a time in the playoffs when his team would play poorly.
“You’re not gonna play good every single game,” he told them. “You have to find ways to win when you play bad.”
Unfortunately for the No. 2 Eagles (25-7), that bad game, according to Shiloh, came in the Central Section Division IV championship game against No.1 Kerman (29-3).
BCHS shot 28.6 percent and turned the ball over 20 times. The Eagles went on a 20-5 run to comeback and take a five-point lead in the fourth quarter, but could not hold on. Kerman took the section title with a 55-49 win at Selland Arena on Saturday.
“Overall, we played awful,” Shiloh said. “That’s the truth. … We have to play better and we didn’t.”
BCHS junior guard AJ Walton led the Eagles with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Freshman Seth Marantos had 16 points.
That fell a little short of the 20 points from Kerman’s Daniel Rico and the 18 by Kerman’s Jacob Shubin. They were the only Kerman players to hit field goals in the first half.
The Lions shot 58 percent in the fourth quarter highlighted by a 3-pointer from Rico that gave Kerman a 43-42 with about 2:45 left in the game. He made another a few possessions later to increase the lead to 50-44.
Prior to that, it was Walton that had taken over. Most of the shots for BCHS weren’t falling, but he converted two layups and six free throws during the critical comeback run for the Eagles.
“We’ll be back next year for sure,” Walton said.
BCHS sophomore forward Ben Yurosek shot just 1-for-13 for BHS but he adjusted his game in the second half. Yurosek drove hard inside to draw multiple defenders before kicking the ball out. He finished with seven assists, seven rebounds and seven steals.
The missed layups were a problem for the entire team and not just Yurosek.
“We could have made one of the hundred layups that we missed,” Shiloh said. “That would have helped.”
The championship for Kerman was its first in 73 years, head coach Tim Hurt said.
BCHS was in the section title game for the first time since winning the program’s first section championship in 2009. The result didn’t go the Eagles’ way, but Shiloh has a young team with just one senior on the roster.
“These are my guys, 100 percent,” Shiloh said. “I wouldn't have any other group. This is a young group. We’ll be back next year for sure. I don't doubt these guys at all, no matter how they play: Good or bad. They’re the toughest group of guys I’ve ever had.”
No. 1 Kerman 55, No. 2 Bakersfield Christian 49
BCHS (25-7): Yurosek 3, Buetow 4, Walton 17, Marantos 16, Taylor 2, Crawford 7.
KHS (29-3): Shubin 18, Mendrin 4, Macias 8, Helmuth 3, Rico 20 Garcia 1, Troutman 1.