This one had that same old feeling.
On Dec. 9, Bakersfield High boys basketball went on a 19-0 run late to beat Liberty for the championship at the Lloyd Williams/Kern Schools Shootout.
On Friday at Liberty, the Patriots once against jumped out to an early lead, and held a 47-37 advantage over the Drillers entering the fourth quarter.
Only this time, the Patriots held on and beat BHS, 66-60, in the first of two Southwest Yosemite League showdowns between the top-two teams in Kern County.
They will meet again Feb. 14 in the regular season finale at BHS.
“In our own house, we had to take care of business,” Liberty coach Jeff Hicks said. “We made some big plays when it mattered. They had a heck of an effort. They never quit. We know that about BHS.”
And don’t think for a minute that the loss nearly 50 days prior wasn't on everyone’s mind on the Liberty bench.
“The way we played in the fourth quarter at Kern Schools, we let them come back with a huge run and we had to stop that this time coming,” Liberty junior Isaiah Hill said. “We just played composed.”
Patriots senior forward Kameron Burris-Garofalo said, “every day we talk about it in practice, about that game how we lost it.”
"We thought we let the last one go a little bit,” Hicks added. “Tonight we finished the right way.”
Hill scored 11 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter for the Patriots (18-3, 4-1). The junior guard also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Both teams are now tied atop the SWYL standing at 4-1.
“This is what we train for all offseason, to play against the Drillers,” Hicks said. “This is great for Bakersfield. We took care of business on our home floor. They are going to want to do the same thing at theirs. We will accept the challenge.”
Liberty jumped out to a 12-2 lead midway through the first quarter and went into halftime with a 32-23 advantage.
Kadar Waller, who scored 14 points and had six assists for the Patriots, drove the lane and scored on a layup to give Liberty a 47-37 lead with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.
But BHS made a run.
Ronnie Stapp scored seven of his 21 points during a 7-0 run for the Drillers (14-7, 4-1) to cut the deficit to 56-52.
But the BHS bench was called for a technical foul on a drive by Waller — the Drillers wanted a travel called on the play but were whistled for a foul and a subsequent technical instead. Waller hit both foul shots while Hill hit the two technical free throws to extend the Liberty lead to eight.
“Us and BHS are the two that compete for the best team in town,” Hicks said. “I think we showed that tonight.”
Burris-Garofalo scored 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
“He worked extremely hard and I am proud of him,” Hicks said. “But we expect that out of him. I am very excited to see him play that well.”
The win for Liberty comes nine days after the Patriots lost to Stockdale, snapping a 10-game win streak.
“We needed a wake-up call,” Hicks said. “We were getting a little complacent. Our league is so good and that happens sometimes. Now we are in the second half of schedule and we have to take care of business.”
R.J. Banks scored a game-high 27 for BHS, with 19 coming in the second half.
The two teams are already looking forward to the rematch.
“When we play BHS, it’s always crazy both ways,” Burris-Garofalo said. “I love playing BHS.”