By Mike Blake
The Kern Valley girls basketball team went into last week with a chance to remain in the hunt for the High Desert League season championship. Taking on two sub-.500 teams, the Lady Broncs took advantage of the opportunity and swept a pair of games to improve to 13-5 overall and 8-1 in HDL play to remain atop the league, just ahead of Rosamond (7-1) and Desert (8-2).
On January 23, Kern Valley’s girls traveled to Mammoth to face the 5-13 Huskies, who are now 2-8 in HDL play. The girls got right to business and jumped out to a 13-0 lead and kept their foot on the pedal throughout the game. KV led 17-5 after one quarter and built a 26-point halftime lead, outscoring Mammoth 18-4 in the second to go into the break at 35-9.
Kern Valley attacked from the moment they left the locker room to open the second half and outscored the Huskies 22-6 to take a 57-15 lead after three. With a running clock and substitutions on the court, the Broncs closed out the fourth with a 40-point victory, 61-21.
Kern Valley girls basketball coach Bill Gallis liked what he saw on the court. “This was a good game for us; we got to try some new things and play girls at different positions,” Coach Gallis said. “It is such a long trip; you worry as a coach that your team will come out sluggish or not have their legs to get up and down the court. I like how we rebounded tonight and got to the free throw line. We did a good job of making the extra pass and setting up teammates for easy scoring opportunities. The win keeps us at the top with Rosamond and we just need to keep improving on the defensive end.”
On the stat sheet, the Broncs pulled down 55 rebounds, including 38 on the offensive boards, with juniors Ava Elliott and Jessie Bunting each grabbing 11 total rebounds, and senior Brooklynn Robertson hauling in 10. Freshman Leenah Troller added seven as 10 Lady Broncs possessed caroms off the glass.
Coach Gallis was also happy to see solid passing and ball distribution as the Broncs were credited with 15 assists divided among seven players. The team’s swarming defense was good for 25 steals, Among the nine girls who had steals, sophomore Elli Jeans led the effort with five takeaways, followed by seniors Robertson and Emily Warnock with four each and Elliott and Troller each with three.
The score sheet showed that nine KV players netted points. Elliott was the only Bronc in double figures, as she finished with 11 points. Bunting added nine, Warnock, Troller and Robertson chipped in with eight, senior Kayley Sietsma scored six and junior Kaya Manwell dropped in five to lead the team.
On January 25, the Lady Broncs hosted Boron (6-11, 2-6 in HDL) for Senior Night honors and again jumped out to a huge first quarter lead that they never relinquished. KV was ahead 17-3 after one and 28-6 at halftime. The team stepped off the gas in third and played to a 12-12 quarter to enter the fourth comfortably ahead 40-18, before costing through the fourth at 13-8 to win the game by 27 at 53-26.
Coach Gallis said the celebration brough out the best in his team. “Senior night is always a special night, and the girls did a great job of competing, “Coach Gallis said. “It was a very physical game and our team was able to match Boron’s intensity early, and pull away late in the first quarter. I liked how our post players were handling the physicality down low and Ava Elliott, one of our work horses in the paint, had one of her best games of the year. She took a lot of pressure off our perimeter players and got us easy looks at the basket. I loved how the guards defended on the outside, forcing the Bobcats into tough shots all game long. Everyone contributed to the win tonight, and it keeps us in a virtual tie with Rosamond with three games left to go.”
Elliott led the scoring assault with 19 points, and Bushling netted 15 as eight players found the twine. The Broncs owned the glass with 41 boards, including 15 in the offensive zone. Nine players were credited with rebounds, led by Elliott’s 13. Bushling had five assists as the team dished out 11 and the KV defense was good for 21 steals, led by Bushling and Jeans with six each.
Kern Valley has now outscored its opponents this season 839-681.
With a scheduled Friday match at Frazier Mountain cancelled, the Lady Broncs have one game set for this week, with a match of league-title significance set for Tuesday at Desert (16-4). Results and details were unavailable at press time.