Bakersfield Christian got behind early, rallied at the end of each quarter, but in the end, didn’t have enough to overcome top-seed Orcutt Academy.
The Spartans built a comfortable halftime lead and then overwhelmed the No. 2 Eagles with a big third quarter on their way to a 69-49 victory in the Central Section Division IV girls basketball championship at Lakeview Junior High on Thursday.
"They got off to a quick start, played extremely well early, and then we made a little bit of a run …" BCHS coach John Buetow said. "We still thought had a shot, but … the third quarter did us in."
Both teams will receive an invite to next week’s Southern California Regional playoffs. Pairings are scheduled to be announced Sunday.
Trailing 21-7 early, BCHS (15-6) closed the first quarter with a 7-0 run to trim Orcutt’s lead to 21-14, with Dami Sule scoring four straight points.
Sule scored another basket to bring her team within 21-16 before the Spartans (10-5) responded with a 15-4 spurt of their own. Sule finished with a game-high 19 points and teammate Jordyn Toler added 17.
Again, the Eagles closed the half with a 6-2 run to stay within striking distance, down 14 points at 38-24.
Orcutt Academy stretched its lead to 58-32 with a big third quarter and led 62-34 with 6:39 before BCHS finished the game by outscoring the Spartans 15-7.
It was the second straight season that the Spartans defeated BCHS in section play. Last year, Orcutt Academy defeated the Eagles 61-29 in the opening round of the D-IV playoffs. Sule did not play in that game.
"I feel like the gap closed," Buetow said. "But Orcutt played extremely well. They shot the ball well, they didn't turn the ball over and they put us on our heels. And the moment was pretty big for us and we looked nervous. We're going to take this as a learning experience so that when we get into the state tournament next week, we know how to respond to the added pressure of bug tournament games."