Broncs face big foes in tourney

Photo by Donna Harris / Freelance Photographer – The Broncs players and their opponent get physical under the basket at the Tri-City Christian Tournament held on Dec. 27-29 in Vista, Calif.

By Ray Conner
Sports Editor

The varsity Broncs basketball squad recently finished up 2018 by competing in the Tri-City Christian Holiday Tournament.

Making the trip down south to Vista, Calif., the Kern Valley team would be stepping up in competition. The team would face a pair of Division 3 teams from the San Diego Division of the CIF and two Division 5 teams from the Southern Section of CIF.

The Broncs were unable to secure any wins in the tournament, but the game experience could generate into being a more competitive team when they get back to playing High Desert League games.

They began the tournament by facing off with the host school. The Broncs could not handle the higher Division 3 team as the Eagles would run away early and never look back.

Kern Valley’s offense came out cold and struggled to find the bottom of the basket. They were limited to just five points in the opening quarter. Their opponent poured in 22 points to open a huge margin. The Broncs could never recover and wound up with the 77-34 loss.

Anthony Barton led the team in scoring with eight points. Ryan Walker finished with seven points, including hitting the lone three-pointer for Kern Valley. Davin Lee and Kaden Preston also had seven points each, while Dakota Smith contributed three points. Tanner Tito wrapped up the scoring with two points.

In rebounding, Walker was the team leader with six. Lee and Barton grabbed five apiece, while Jeffrey Cawein pulled down four. Preston and Smith each had three boards, while Lucas Harris had a pair of rebounds. Tito and Malikye Moore each had one rebound in the game.

Lee handed out three assists and Spenser Hansen dished out a pair of assists. Harris and Preston each recorded one block for Kern Valley. Smith led the team with three steals. Lee had two, while Hansen and Walker each had one steal.

The following day the Broncs would take on Del Lago Academy out of Escondido. They are a Division 5 team in the Southern Section of the CIF.

The Broncs played a competitive game, but in the end it was the Firebirds pulling out the 58-50 victory. The game was close after three quarters as the Broncs had battled back after falling behind at the half. When the teams went to the break it was Del Lago in front 29-25.

Coming out of the locker room Kern Valley out scored their opponent 16-13 to pull to within one. The score was sitting at 42-41 when the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter.

In the final quarter the Firebirds exploded for 16 points, but the Broncs were limited to nine and would be the difference in the game.

Preston led the team in scoring with 12 points, including hitting a three-pointer. Barton scored 10 points with one from behind the three-point arc, while Lee and Walker each had eight points.

Smith finished with four points, while Hansen hit once from long distance for his three points. Tito and Cawein each had two points to close out the scoring for Kern Valley.

Walker was a beast on the boards as he grabbed 17 rebounds to lead the Kern Valley squad. Barton had six boards, while Preston had four rebounds. Lee and Smith were credited with three rebounds apiece, while Harris had a pair of boards. Tito and Hansen each had one rebound in the game.

Lee recorded eight assists as he helped his teammate score buckets. Preston had a pair of assists, while Hansen, Walker, and Harris each had one assist.

Leading the team in steals was Walker with five. Lee had three, while Barton and Smith each had a pair of steals. Tito recorded one steal for Kern Valley.

Game three on the same day saw Kern Valley fall to the Avalon Lancers by 16 points. Avalon of Catalina Island are a Division 5A team from the Southern Section of the CIF. The Broncs fell behind early and could never gain an advantage in this one. They trailed 13-6 after one quarter and were down 30-19 at halftime.

In the second half they managed to score 25 points, but the Lancers added 30 to their total to secure the victory.

Preston was the top scorer for Kern Valley as he dropped in 14 points. He hit three times from three-point land. Walker had 12 points, while Lee scored six. Hansen and Smith each scored four, while Tito and Barton closed out the scoring with two points apiece.

Walker topped the rebounding department for the Broncs as he pulled down a team-high nine. He just missed recording a double-double. Smith had six boards, while Harris grabbed four. Cawein and Barton each had three rebounds, while Tito, Lee, and Preston each had two boards. Hansen wrapped up the board work with one rebound.

Lee handed out four assists to lead Kern Valley. Hansen and Preston each had one assist in the contest.

Smith recorded the lone block for the Broncs. Lee was credited with seven steals which led the team. Walker had six steals, while Preston had three. Cawein had a pair of steals, while Tito and Barton each had one steal.

The final contest of the tournament pitted the Broncs against the Frogs of Guajome Park Academy. This team is the other Division 3 team Kern Valley would face.

Things started well for the Broncs as they took a lead after the opening quarter. Kern Valley poured in 23 points and allowed 17 for the six-point cushion. They would continue to hold the lead as they went to the break. They added 11 points, while the Frogs answered with 12 points. The score at halftime favored the Broncs 34-29.

The Broncs good fortune continued as they upped the lead to nine points when the horn sounded to end the third. Kern Valley’s total was 46, while the Frogs were sitting at 37.

In the fourth, things fell apart offensively for the Broncs. They were held to a measly three points. Their opponents responded with 15 to erase the earlier deficit and send Kern Valley home with a 52-49 loss.

Leading the way in scoring was Harris with 11 points. Preston finished with nine, including a three-pointer. Lee scored eight points, including hitting twice from long-distance. Barton also scored eight points, while Walker and Smith each had four points. Cawein had three points, while Hansen wrapped up the scoring for Kern Valley with two points.

Barton was the leader in rebounding as he grabbed 10. Walker and Smith each had four boards, while Tito, Lee, and Harris each had three rebounds. Preston finished the board work with one rebound in the game.

Lee and Walker shared the team lead in assists. They each dished out four assists. Hansen recorded two assists, while Preston and Barton each had one assist.

Walker swatted away the lone Frogs shot attempt, while Lee led the team in steals with four. Walker had three steals, while Hansen and Preston each had a pair of steals. Smith was credited with one steal for Kern Valley.

Head coach Brian Christianson said, “Most of the players on the team had not experienced an overnight tournament, and being in the San Diego area allowed us to have a lot of good team building experiences. A big thank you to Mr. Meyers (Principal at Kern Valley High School) for all that he did in setting some things up. Anytime that you play in a different section, San Diego in this case, there is a period of adjustment that you go through in seeing what the style of play is in the section. And what the referees call and don’t call in that section—so this was a good learning situation for the players. Having very little practice time with such a young team really hurt us at this tournament. Some bad old habits started to show up that will need to be fixed. In each game we went through some scoring lapses, and some defensive lapses. Thus is something that young teams experience. Instead of playing more team basketball in these situations, we had individuals trying to do too much on their own. Again we will try to fix this in practice. Overall, a great experience for the team.”

The Broncs will now turn their focus on High Desert League action as they return to the court. They made the trip to Bishop to play their rival on Tuesday.

Kern Valley’s Jeffrey Cawein, No. 25, shoots over an opponent in the tournament. Teammate Lucas Harris, No. 22, watches the action unfold.


Davin Lee of the varsity Broncs dribbles trying to get free. Teammate Dakota Smith, No. 42, posts up his opponent near the basket.