Nothing was falling for Anthony Dominguez. Even his head coach said he was “terrible” all night shooting the ball.
But when it mattered most, the Bakersfield High senior nailed a 3-pointer as time expired as the Drillers beat Ridgeview, 51-49, on Tuesday at Ridgeview.
“Let’s be honest. He was terrible up to that point,” BHS coach Greg Burt said. “I don’t think he made a shot. But he made it when we needed it and I’ve told him in practice to shoot it when he’s open, and that’s what he did.”
Dominguez had just one free throw made before the game-winner, as BHS came back from a 43-33 deficit to start the fourth quarter.
“I was just focused and not worried about any of those shots,” Dominguez said. “I just kept shooting and just thinking about it going in and not worrying.”
There seemed to be some worry that the Drillers, who lost to Fresno-Central in the Central Section Division I finals a year ago, would come up short on opening night.
Ridgeview, which won the D-II championship a year ago, came out hot and with a new look. The team lost graduated seniors Justin McCall (Cal State Bakersfield) and Jordan Roberts (Long Beach State) this offseason, as both are now playing college basketball.
Led by a 10-point third quarter performance by senior Shawn Gementera, who led the Wolf Pack with 16, Ridgeview seemed poised to open with a big win.
But Ronnie Stapp, who was held without a field goal, made four consecutive free throws for BHS. R.J. Banks, who led BHS with 13, helped spearhead a 13-0 run after Gabe Esquivel hit a 3-pointer to put the Drillers up 47-44. It was the first lead for BHS since it was ahead 2-0 following the opening possession.
“In the first three quarters, we really beat ourselves,” Banks said. “It was never really that we weren’t playing hard. We just missed our shots. We just had to dig deep and make some shots.”
Caldwell leads BHS with near triple-double - Like the boys game, the shots weren’t falling easily for Bakersfield High or Ridgeview in the girls season opener.
Led by a 21 points, nine rebounds and nine steals from senior Taylor Caldwell, Bakersfield opened the season with a 55-39 win at Ridgeview, however.
“We came out kind of sluggish but we played hard the whole way through,” Caldwell said. “Shots just weren’t falling. We were missing easy baskets and jump shots. But we played hard.”
Both teams were held scoreless for the first two minutes of the game before Caldwell hit her first basket with 5:39 left in the first quarter.
Caldwell scored 17 of her 21 in the first half, as BHS went into the halftime with a 37-17 lead.
Ridgeview, led by nine points from Krystal Zavala and eight from freshman Jordan Francisco, mounted a comeback.
But a steady dose of Caldwell, Taylor Linzie (9 points), and freshman Jaiden Key (9) kept the Drillers ahead by double digits throughout the second half.
BHS lost to Independence in the Central Section Division II championships last season.
“It was great,” Caldwell said. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. We worked hard all offseason and two weeks of torture with camp. It felt really good.”