The Real Junior College Men’s Basketball Team of Bakersfield — or Kern County — doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” But, according to Bakersfield College head coach Rich Hughes, his squad had enough drama during the 2017-18 season to make a good soap opera or reality television show.
“We’ll call it an eventful year,” Hughes said. “... But I think (even with) all the things we went through, we were still there. We didn't really get blown out by anybody, everything was pretty close.”
The Renegades did their best to weather the suspension of 2016-17 conference player of the year Jamar Hammonds and a short bench — among other things — but came up short of their third straight conference championship. BC had a shot with a few games remaining and lost its final three road games of the season by a combined nine points. The Renegades finished with a 13-13 overall record and fourth in the Western State Conference South Division at 4-4.
“The biggest low was just not being able to three-peat,” Hughes said. “That was a goal that I thought was something that we could do. … We were right there. We were a couple bounces away from being a conference champion.”
BC’s biggest issue was depth. It had abundant talent between its starters Johnathan Murray, Tucker Eenigenburg, Jaylunn English and Henry Galinato.
Murray led the state with 7.8 assists per game. Eenigenburg was the California Community College Athletic Association men’s player of the month for January and scored 51 points in a game. English was the conference player of the year and led the state with three blocks per game. Galinato was ninth in the state with 10.3 rebounds per game.
Murray, Eenigenburg and English averaged more than 36 minutes per game in the final six contests of the year. Galinato averaged 34.
“I don’t know if that had anything to do with the end result, but it’s a long season,” Hughes said. “So there was talent there, I just don't think our bench was ready to really contribute where we could have some flexibility to sit those guys.”
Hughes expects his five sophomores — Murray, Eenigenburg, English, Galinato and Hammonds — to play basketball at the next level next season. It’ll be up to this season’s freshmen, that either mostly came off the bench or were stuck there, to lead the team next year.
BC women’s basketball coach focused on adapting for next year
BC women’s basketball coach Paula Dahl just wrapped up one-on-one discussions with her players about the year and a self-assessment of the season. The Renegades finished 10-15 overall and in third place in the Western State Conference South Division with a 4-4 record.
“We fell short of where we could have been,” Dahl said. “... I felt like we were playing a lot of catch up to bring them to where they need to be to really compete.”
The Renegades were led by 16.4 points per game from sophomore Octavia Croney and 8.9 rebounds per game from sophomore Angie Kroeger.
“We had a lot of consistent output with Octavia and Angie, but that everybody else was kind of in spurts,” Dahl said, “and we were way too dependent on Octavia producing buckets for us. I was hoping to have a more even distribution and we did in some games, but overall I was hoping for a great distribution in our offense which I think would have helped us.”
What also would have helped BC is a healthy roster at the end of the season. The Renegades had three different starters miss games with concussions and played its second-to-last game of the season with just two starters available. One of the usual starters that did play, Brianna Mendez, even had her status for the game in doubt.
With the season in the past, Dahl is focused on adapting her coaching philosophies. She wants to create a more competitive atmosphere in practice next season and develop more self-confidence in her players. The team wasn’t as in shape as she would have liked and played at a slower pace, too.
Dahl is in the process of developing a better plan to help her players deal with the mental aspect of the sport.
“This has been a good year for me,” Dahl said. “It made me a better coach.”