Three years ago, Lexus Green was the up-and-coming freshman guard for Garces helping to keep the pressure off senior C.J. West, the three-time BVarsity All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Now with West in her junior year at Cal, it’s Green playing the roll of seasoned veteran on a young Garces team trying to get back to Selland Arena.
The Rams took another step in the right direction as Green scored 17 points as three Rams scored in double-figures in a 59-53 road win at Bakersfield High on Thursday. The two programs are now tied atop the Southwest Yosemite League standings at 6-1.
“I respect every single player on our team,” Green said. “They are always pushing me in practice the same why I used to push the seniors when I was a freshman and sophomore. I really appreciate everybody.”
Addisyn McMurtrey led the Rams (19-4, 6-1) with a game-high 18 points and fellow sophomore Ire Penesa-Heiser added 13.
The win avenges a 57-50 loss at home to BHS two weeks ago.
“This is big. It shows our maturity. Our leaders led us,” Garces coach Lisamarie Sanchez said. “This is a game we were looking forward to playing. Especially losing at our house … I am just really proud of how they showed up, played and stayed together.”
Green scored the first six points for Garces, but was held to just one field goal, a 3-pointer in the third quarter, during the second half.
Penesa-Heiser and McMurtrey and juniors Myyah Goolsby and Aliyah Johnson helped lead a 19-8 Garces advantage in the third quarter as the Rams built the lead to 49-34.
“We are so young. With (Green) leading by example, (she) has really improved this year,” Sanchez said. “In practice, she sets the tone and the girls follow. Everything is coming full circle for her. I am just hoping that we can pull this thing together.”
BHS opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run and cut the Garces lead to five at 55-50 with two minutes to play.
Taylor Linzie led BHS with 15 points and senior McKenna Hsiung added 12 for the Drillers.
With the win, Garces makes the seedings for the Central Section Division II playoffs very interesting.
BHS (18-3, 6-1) is the defending D-II section champions and was the favorite for the No. 1 seed. Garces, along with Oakhurst-Yosemite, are now in the running for the chance for home-court advantage. With two weeks to go in the regular season, there is a possibility these two could see each other again deep in the playoffs.
And if that happened to come at Selland Arena next month?
“It’s amazing. Garces and BHS has always had good games these past four years,” Green said. “I play against my friends when we play BHS. Growing up playing AAU together, we fight with each other. It would be great if we could take it to Selland and battle out for who is the best in Bakersfield."