On the road at top-seeded Clovis-Buchanan and trailing by eight at the end of the first quarter, Bakersfield High girls basketball coach Rashaan Shehee didn’t panic on Tuesday night.
It was a confidence born out of guiding the Drillers to three straight Central Section titles.
On cue, BHS did not disappoint.
Sophomore guard Radisson Banks scored seven of her team-high 18 points during her team’s turnaround in the second quarter, outscoring the Bears by 17 during that eight-minute stretch en route to a 69-56 upset victory.
“We went on a run in that second quarter,” said Shehee, whose team outscored Buchanan 23-6 to erase a 25-18 deficit at the end of the first. “I just told them to stay the course and keep battling because we haven’t been in too many close games this year. Really, this is only our second real game that we’ve been in. So it’s like trying to get game experience on the go. So I’m happy with the way the girls came back and continued to fight.”
Bakersfield (8-0) will play at No. 2 Santa-Maria-Righetti in Thursday’s Division I championship, with the Drillers in quest of a fourth straight title. Righetti beat No. 3 Hanford 77-50 in the other semifinal matchup.
“That is the goal, that’s our mission right now, four-peat,” Shehee said. “It’s not going to be easy … Ultimately, I’m just stoked for the kids with everything that’s going on. We didn’t have the chance to have the type of season that we wanted to have. We were excited for the season, but to have a chance to go back and defend our title in the Valley and have a chance to get four rings, you can’t ask for any more than just that chance or that opportunity. So we’re happy to be where we are right now.”
The Bears (12-7) made three first-quarter 3-pointers and took control of the game early, building a 25-17 lead with three different Buchanan players scoring six points apiece.
But BHS showcased it’s version of balanced scoring in the second quarter, led by Banks, with five points from Faith Curry and four each from Sara Shein and Anaya Sanders.
Leading 40-31 at the half, Buchanan trimmed Bakersfield’s lead in a low-scoring third quarter, with all 12 of the Bears coming as the result of four 3-pointers.
But the Drillers regained control in the final quarter, thanks in part to three 3-pointers of their own, including two by Banks. Erica Hayden had four of her 10 points in the quarter and Shaelyn Turner added five.
“The girls continued to believe in themselves and to believe in the game plan that we put together,” Shehee said. “And just settling down and not rushing everything. Because that’s what a lot of schools in the TRAC try to do, get you to play faster by throwing traps at you. And if you can handle the pressure you’ll be fine. And early on we weren’t handling the pressure very well and then we started settling down.”
No. 2 Bakersfield Christian 62, No. 6 McFarland 43
Sophomore Jordyn Toler scored a game-high 25 points and Dami Sule added 23 points to lead the Eagles past the Cougars.
The Eagles (15-5) will play at top-seeded Orcutt in Thursday’s section championship game.
Bakersfield Christian led 29-20, but began to pull away in the second half. Toler had 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Sarah Lopez had a game-high 10 points for McFarland (3-9), who defeated BCHS 61-40 on May 13.