Lady Badger’s dream ends in Bakersfield

The No. 4 seed Yosemite High girls basketball team ran into a road block in Bakersfield Tuesday night on their way to last Friday’s CIF Central Section D-II championship game at Fresno’s Selland Arena.

The road block was thrown up by the division’s No. 1 seed, Independence High of Bakersfield, a team that has won 26 games this season, losing only two, and being ranked No. 6 in the state in D-II by

Yosemite beat Selma 59-40 on Feb. 26 in the division quarter-finals before taking on Independence.

The game was a classic Davis vs Goliath match-up, as Independence has an enrollment of almost 2,000 students, while Yosemite has about 700. The game was closer than most expected with Independence holding off the Badgers for a 49-40 win and earning the trip to the Friday Night game against Sierra at the Selland Arena, a game in which Independence would win 68-51.

After falling behind early in the game to Independence due to some costly turnovers, the Yosemite girls battled pretty much even in the 2nd half with the scoring 28-27 in Independence favor in the last two quarters. The Badgers closed to within four points twice in the fourth quarter but some clutch shooting by the Falcons stymied the comeback along with the two starting Yosemite guards, Mattaya Bown and Allie Stearns fouling out in the final period.

Burrall has triple double - No. 2 in state in blocked shots

Stearns led the Badgers with 13 points followed by Veronica Miller (10 points), and Taylor Burrall (10). Burrall also had 13 rebounds and 10 blocked shots, giving her the first triple double of her career against the CIF Champs and cementing her lead in the Central Section CIF with 181, the next player having 112 (the center from Independence). Burrall was No. 2 in the state in overall blocks.

The game was well-attended by Yosemite fans in spite of the geographical difference with Independence being perhaps the farthest school in the Southwestern corner of the CIF Central Section and Yosemite the farthest in the Northeast.

The Lady Badgers ended the season with a 19-10 record and a league co-championship with Sierra.

The team graduates three key seniors in point guard Brown and forward Miller, both four-year varsity players and the record setting shot blocker Burrall, who has played basketball for only two years.

Other seniors were Jessica Rudd who played key minutes in the final game, Emma Reda and Kristin Bonillas.

Two starters will return next season - Stearns, third leading scorer this season, and forward Ashlee Harrell, who was the third leading rebounder with 156 behind Miller (No. 2 all-time career at Yosemite with 261) and 209 from the 6-foot-3 Burrall.

Despite the team’s long history of success - 12 league championships in the past 13 seasons along with four CIF Central Section Championships and three runners-up, the team has improved over the past three seasons. In 2013, the team won league but lost in the first round of playoffs. Last year broke the string of league championships but the Badgers won a playoff game on the road.

This year Yosemite won a share of the league championship and won a playoff game, the first home playoff win since the 2011 season.

Next season the Badgers girls basketball team will need its returning players to make considerable improvements and reload its roster to obtain further success. Time will tell if next year’s team will be up to the task.

- Yosemite High Correspondent