By Mike Blake
The Lady Broncs took their first-place High Desert League (HDL) ranking and four-game winning streak on the road to Desert, January 30, and battled through four quarters and overtime, before dropping a heart-breaker to the Scorpions (15-5, 9-3) by a 69-62 margin. Kern Valley fell to 13-6 overall with an 8-2 HDL record). On a 50-point performance by KV’s top two scorers – sophomore Jayda Bushling scored 30 and junior Jessie Bunting netted 20 – the Lady Broncs fought Desert in a see-saw battle before falling in overtime by seven.
Kern Valley girls basketball coach Bill Gallis said the game was a battle from start to finish. “This was a very tough loss,” Gallis said. “The girls battled the whole night. To be In it at the end of the game, compared to the 42-point loss last year to the same team, is a testament to the girls’ grit and fire. They wanted this win bad and we just came up a bit short. We threw everything we could at them and you have to give Desert credit. Their bench stepped up to make big shots for them. We are still in the hunt for the HDL Title and that will be against Rosamond on Tuesday. If we can put together another game like the Desert one, I think we will give ourselves a shot.”
This game had playoff game intensity and in the tight match on the Scorpions’ home court, the two teams battled back and forth in the opening stanza and ended the first quarter tied at 13-13. The Broncs took a three-point advantage into the locker room at half time, outscoring Desert 14-11 in the frame to own a 27-24 lead. Both teams came out roaring and scoring in the third, with Desert cutting the lead to one at 44-43 after three on a 19-17 advantage in the quarter, The fourth was also a back-and-forth affair, with the Broncs taking a one-point lead with 10 seconds left in regulation on a Bushling free throw. Desert tied the score at 57-57 on their next possession to send the game onto overtime.
The extra frame was all Desert as the Scorps took a 12-5 advantage to win the game.
Desert took 97 shots from the field, making 22, compared to Kern Valley’s shot production of 58 attempts of which they drained 24. KV hit 3-of-8 tries from beyond the arc, while Desert made only 4-of-25 three-point attempts.
KV hit 11-of-20 free throws while Desert hit 21-of-33 at the foul stripe. Desert shined on defense, where they picked off 24 steals. Kern Valley was credited with nine steals, led by Bushling and sophomore Ellie Jeans, with three steals each. Desert also had nine blocked shots to four for KV, three by Bunting.
The Broncs got big scoring from Bushling – 30 points on 10-18 from the field including a three-pointer and she was 9-13 at the foul line — and Bunting – 20 points on 9-24 from FG range and 2-5 on free throws. None of the other four Lady Broncs’ scorers tallied more than four points, but Elli Jeans and senior Emily Warnock each hit one from beyond the arc.
Coach Gallis said Bushling did everything she could all game. “She kept us in it all night long and played a fabulous game under pressure,” Coach Gallis said.
The Broncs crashed the boards well, and despite 23 rebounds by Desert’s Destiny Hart, outrebounded the Scorpions 53-44. Leading the effort on the glass, Kern Valley was paced by Jeans and Bunting with 14 boards each, and 12 rebounds by Bushling. Junior Ava Elliott contributed seven rebounds.
Elliott and Bushling led the KV girls in assists with four helpers each and Jeans added three.
On defense, Bushling and Jeans were each credited with three steals and Elliott grabbed two. Senior Kassidy Sietsma added one takeaway. Bunting also had three blocks and Jeans swatted away one shot.
Rosamond currently leads the HDL pack at 9-1, with Kern Valley in second at 8-2 and Desert holds down third with a 7-3 HDL record. The Broncs hold a 901-750 edge in scoring over their opponents this season.
The Lady Broncs faced Rosamond (18-7, 9-1 in HDL) on Tuesday, with first-place on the line and the Roadrunners riding a six-game win streak . Results and details were unavailable at press time.
KV is set to take on the California City Ravens (0-9, 0-15) on the road Thursday at 5 p.m.