A tough pre-season schedule paid off for the Yosemite High Badger girls basketball team (9-8, 1-0 North Sequoia League) with a 38-36 victory over the Sierra Chieftains Jan. 16 in the North Sequoia League opener for both teams .
The Chieftains came into the game with a 13-2 record, ranked No. 6 in the entire Central Section and No. 2 in D-II. Sierra won the D-III Championship last year, moved up a division and returned their top players.
The Badgers have been steadily improving and received a solid game from 6-foot-3 center Taylor Burrall who was the games leading scorer with 13 points on 5-11 shooting from the field and 3-4 from the line. She also had 5 blocks maintaining her status as the top Shot Blocker in the Central Section, fifth in the state and in the national top 25. Not bad for a player who did not play any type of organized basketball until last season.
Burrall hit two free throws to open the scoring and the Badgers never trailed throughout the entire game.
The Sierra gym was full of fans as the Lady Badgers played before the largest and most hostile crowd of the season.
“This was the first girls varsity basketball game I’ve ever attended,” said the mother of an Oak Creek Intermediate school basketball player. “Now I know what they mean when they say a school is a ‘rival.’”
“Balanced scoring, solid team defense and scoring off fast break opportunities kept us on top throughout the game,” said Coach Gary Blate.
After Burrall fouled out in the fourth quarter, the Badgers were able to withstand the last minutes charge by the Chietains who were down eight points going into the fourth quarter.
Senior Veronica Miller had 12 rebounds and scored a key basket and free throw in the final minute. Allie Stearns had 7 points and 7 rebounds. Point guard Mattaya Brown played with high energy and scored a hat trick with a 3-pointer, a 2-point field goal, and a free throw for a total of 6 points.
Ashlee Harrell hit a key 3-pointer and finished with 5 points and 8 rebounds. Jessica Rudd and Jessica Fine provided quality minutes off the bench.
Megan Stark and Grace Wilson led the Chieftains with 11 points.
Yosemite played Sierra earlier in the season in a game which Sierra won in overtime and neither Stark or Wilson were at that game.
The North Sequoia League will be competitive this season as 5 of the 6 teams bring winning records. In other Friday night league openers, all three games were decided by a total of eight points.
Yosemite played Liberty (13-4, 1-0 NSL) Wednesday. Results not available at press time. Friday the team hosts Washington Union at 6:30 p.m., followed by the boys game. Union was a 41-37 winner over Kerman in its league opener.
- Yosemite High correspondent