Warriors Basketball

The Warriors head down court on a fast break in a recent home game against Burroughs of Ridgecrest. Pictured are #22 Carson Bethany (with ball);
#11 Jonny Saavedra; and #30 Tanner Herman. Burros won the game. (Photo by The Tehachapi News.)

Season Preview: Warriors Boys Basketball,
One Team With One Goal … To Win

Posted by John Nelson, The Tehachapi News, on December 14, 2015

Warriors, Warriors, quite contrary, how does your offense go? It just depends, says first-year head coach Louie Saavedra.

“We can run, or we can slow it down,” he said. “If the other team wants to go slow, we'll speed it up. If they want to go fast, we'll slow it down.”

It's a contrary type of offense that will use some speed, the ability to shoot from the outside, and its athletic ability to confound its opponents. At least, that's the plan.

As the season entered its very early stages, the plan seemed to be coming together. The Warriors won their first four games, sustaining their first loss as they played for the championship of Rosamond's Roadrunner Tournament against Paraclete on Dec. 5.

The 62-56 loss came barely two hours after beating a tough Lone Pine team 74-73 in overtime in the semifinals.

“We've got a lot of talent, and the Rosamond tournament gave us some good exposure,” Saavedra said.

It also gave the Warriors a chance to find that elusive balance of team chemistry.

“Right now we're trying to find it,” Saavedra said. “We learning to play as a team, we're finding our identity.”

Made up of about an equal mix of juniors and seniors, many of whom have played together before, the Warriors should have a head start in that area.

Leading the team at point guard will be Saavedra's younger brother, 17-year-old senior Jonny Saavedra, who has averaged a little more than 20 points per game through the Warriors first seven games.

Starting Five

With the season barely two weeks old, coach Saavedra has used several different starting five alignments, looking for that chemistry and working around some early season injuries. Staying healthy will be important for the Warriors this season.

Starting center, 6-foot-6 senior Jacob Burt, sustained an ankle injury in the first week and had to sit. Starting small forward Daniel Wight was nursing a deep thigh bruise.

Besides the young Saavedra, forwards Chris Llamas and Lars Olofson have seen a lot of action, along with players such as Carson Bethany, Nathan Collier and Tanner Herman as Saavedra has relied a lot on his bench.

“Our bench has been critical for us, and they've done a great job,” Saavedra said.

The Warriors also have stacked up some big tournaments in their preseason schedule, giving them an opportunity not only to get an early look at some of their South Yosemite League rivals but also at some of the Division 1 schools in the area.

Kern Shootout

On Wednesday, Dec. 9, they began play in the Lloyd Williams-Kern Schools Shootout, a 16-team tournament that included SYL rivals Ridgeview, Golden Valley, West and Inependence, as well as other schools from Paso Robles, Bakersfield, Shafter and Taft.

“A lot of people will be scouting that tournament,” Saavedra said. “This will give us a chance to see not only where we stack up against other SYL teams but also against some of the other bigger schools around.”

It also could give Saavedra a chance to see how he stacks up against his predecessor, Chris Olofson, who won 200 games in 11 seasons as the Warriors coach before stepping down this year for medical reasons.

It's not like Saavedra was coming in cold. A Tehachapi alum, he played basketball for the Warriors and has been a Warriors assistant. Saavedra has the added advantage of having an assistant coach in his brother, Vincent, who played basketball for Olofson.

Old Hands

Olofson said Vincent Saavedra was the shooting guard on his 2007 CIF division championship team, “and I had Louie in football when I was a JV coach in '97. They're both fine coaches.”

Although he did not expect it to come this quickly, Saavedra said that it’s been his dream “to be under the lights” as the head of Tehachapi's varsity basketball program.

Now, that dream has expanded to include what every coach wants: championships.

“Honestly, I think we're going to be very competitive this year,” Saavedra said. “I don't think we're going to have a lot of easy games in league, but if we play defense, limit our turnovers and run our offense, I think we can come out victorious.”

How victorious?