Just one week into their respective league seasons, and only nine local boys basketball teams survived unscathed.
Defending league champions Bakersfield High, North, Chavez and Bakersfield Christian are among them — all at 2-0 — with things starting to heat up with several showdowns this week matching up undefeated teams.
Road to repeat?
In the Southeast Yosemite League, the Stars (6-7, 2-0) are off to another strong start to league play, posting victories over Highland and Foothill this week, and are currently tied for first-place with East (9-8, 2-0). Larry Atkerson, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, led North with 23 points and 15 rebounds in a 59-46 victory over the Trojans on Thursday. Senior point guard Cashawn Christopher added 16 for the Stars in the win.
Earlier in the week, Elijah Willis scored a team-high 13 points, Atkerson had 14 rebounds and senior guard Michael Gentry contributed eight blocks in North’s’ 71-31 victory over the Scots.
The Stars will host the Blades, who defeated Mira Monte and South this week, in an early-season SEYL showdown on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Senior guard Antonio Hardin is averaging 19 points per game in league play thus far for East. The Blades have also received offensive production from senior wing Jesus Ramirez, who had 15 points in a 66-59 win over South on Tuesday. Juniors Akili Gregory and Manuel Barraza had 12 points apiece in the win. Diego Garcia had 15 points in the loss for the Lions (8-6, 1-1).
Bakersfield High slipped past Garces on Friday, 59-56, extending its Southwest Yosemite League win streak to 17 games. But it was the closest the Drillers have come to a SWYL loss since a 66-60 defeat at Liberty on Jan. 26, 2018. Prior to its recent victory over the Rams (10-5, 1-1), BHS (11-5, 2-0) had outscored its league opponents by an average of 27.5 points per game during its winning streak.
Bakersfield ends the first week of league play tied with Centennial (7-6, 2-0), which defeated Liberty and Stockdale this week. The Golden Hawks are led by senior guard Noah West, who is averaging 15.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. He made five 3-pointers in a 36-point performance against Bakersfield Christian earlier this season. Senior Max Richey and Junior Ryan Redstone are contributing 11 points a game for Centennial, which plays at BHS on Friday.
Following a loss to Garces in the Elite Eight Challenge final, Chavez (12-5, 2-0) bounced back nicely with victories over Shafter (12-6, 1-1) and McFarland (1-12, 0-2) this week.
The Titans, who shared the South Sequoia League title with Taft last year, are one of three undefeated teams after the first week of action, joining Kennedy (4-12, 2-0) and Wasco (5-8, 1-0).
The Tigers, which defeated the Cougars in their only game last week, play at the Thunderbirds on Wednesday before hosting Chavez on Friday.
Junior guard Fernando Carranza leads the Titans, averaging 18.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, with Noly Mercado scoring 14.5. Senior Sdan Arredondo is filling up the stat sheet with 10.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists per contest.
Picking up steam
Bakersfield Christian (8-4, 2-0), which has played arguably the toughest schedule among area teams, had won six straight games, including a 59-48 victory over Arizona-Rancho Solano Prep on Saturday afternoon. Levi Latu had a team-high 17 points, while Ben Yurosek and Lendl Henderson added 14 and 11 points, respectively.
The Eagles are 5-0 since the return of Yurosek, a 6-5 senior power forward, who missed the first seven games of the season while leading the BCHS football team to the CIF State 3-A championship.
Bakersfield Christian, the defending South Yosemite League champion, are tied atop the standings with Independence (9-3, 2-0). The two teams play at BCHS on Thursday.
A star is born?
Although his team has started SWYL play 0-2, freshman guard Joaquin Rios has already made a name for himself early in the season. He poured in 28 points and added eight rebounds and eight assists in a 68-58 loss to Bakersfield High in his first high school league game on Wednesday night.
The Mustangs (8-5, 0-2), which lost to Centennial 71-62 on Friday, play at Liberty (3-9, 0-2) on Wednesday before hosting Frontier (7-10, 1-1) on Friday this week.
Can anyone challenge the BHS girls?
With an average margin of victory at 36.8 points against area opponents, the Bakersfield High girls basketball team has cruised to a 14-2 overall record and is 2-0 in Southwest Yosemite League play following a pair of lopsided victories last week over Stockdale and Garces.
Senior Taylor Linzie leads BHS, averaging 7.8 points, 9.8 points, 3.3 assists and 3.5 steals per game. The team has six players averaging at least six points a game.
The question is, can a local team push the Drillers, who are 8-0 against Kern County opponents this season?
The answer may come Wednesday when BHS hosts a Frontier squad that has also made a habit of blowing teams out this season. The Titans (12-3, 2-0), who defeated the Rams and Liberty last week, have only played three area teams, but they’ve outscored them by more than 30 points a game on average, including a 33-point win over Garces on Wednesday.
Thurman is tall on talent
In the South Yosemite League, Tehachapi (7-1, 2-0) looks to be the class of league. Led by 6-foot-1 senior Teagan Thurman, the Warriors cruised past Independence and Bakersfield Christian (5-9, 1-1) last week. Thurman is averaging 24.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 3.6 steals and 2.5 blocks this season. And her damage isn’t always inside. She also has a team-high 13 3-pointers.
Tehachapi will face Golden Valley (7-10, 1-1) on Tuesday before a Thursday’s showdown with Ridgeview (10-6, 2-0), which has won three straight heading into Tuesday’s game at BCHS.
Setting up for showdowns
East (9-5, 2-0) and Highland (10-6, 2-0) both finished the first week of Southeast Yosemite League action unblemished. The Blades and Scots are scheduled to meet until Jan. 21 at East.
In South Sequoia League play, Arvin (14-3, 1-0), Taft (11-5, 2-0) and McFarland (6-7, 2-0) all had a perfect start to league play.
The Bears defeated Kennedy (9-9, 0-2) on Thursday and are scheduled to play Chavez (5-10, 0-2) and Shafter (6-11, 1-1) this week. A showdown with the Wildcats and Cougars is still a few weeks away.
Taft defeated the Thunderbirds and Generals last week, while McFarland beat Wasco (7-7, 0-1) and the Titans.