Warriors Beat Hanford West For D-III Title

Posted March 4, 2007, by Andy Boogaard, The Fresno Bee

(Webmaster Note: The last Warrior Central Section basketball championship was in 1951-52 when Tehachapi defeated Parlier, 68-58, for the Small School Division championship.)

They waited and waited, surviving two postponements and shovels full of snow in the Tehachapi Mountain Range in the last week.

And then, finally, by the time they made it to Selland Arena on Saturday for the Central Section Division III boys basketball championship -- a 2 1/2-hour bus ride behind them -- the Tehachapi Warriors arrived a bit ornery.

"We came with a chip on our shoulders," coach Chris Olofson said. "We haven't had a lot of respect the last two years. But that's OK, the only way to change things is to win, and we finally did it."

Oh, they won it, all right, releasing that frustration in the last 2 minutes of a 66-54 win over Hanford West.

Sixth-seeded Tehachapi (22-4) led 54-52 over the third-seeded Huskies (18-12) before forging a 10-0 run behind Vincent Saavedra, a three-year starting guard and face of a team with a tough-guy personality. He scored four of his 21 points in that span.

Evident Saturday was the cohesion of seniors Saavedra, Paul Walker and Jacob Rombouts, teammates since third grade.

Walker, a guard who made 6 of 9 shots from the field and all eight free throws, scored 20 points, and Rombouts, a forward, delivered 17 points and 18 rebounds as the Warriors pounded Hanford West 66-54 on the boards.

Tehachapi trailed 31-22 at halftime before rallying behind 53.3% shooting (16 of 30) in the final two quarters.

In no way did the Warriors represent an outfit embarrassed by Bakersfield Christian -- a fourth-place finisher in the South Sequoia League and eventual section Division V runner-up -- 66-54 in a league finale Feb. 16.

"We were at an all-time low," Olofson said. "We got it rubbed in our face. But it was the best thing in the long run."

Tehachapi advanced to the finals after routing No. 3 Washington 73-42 on the road and No. 7 Yosemite 65-46 at home in games delayed a day because of snowy conditions at home that prohibited the Warriors from departing the first time and hosting the second.

"I've always felt there's been a Fresno bias," Olofson said. "But a team like Washington has been on top for a long time, so I understand why it's been that way. Slowly, maybe we'll get some respect. We're known as a football school but, slowly, we're becoming a basketball school, too."

Also becoming a force in a division that swallowed top seeds Tulare and Hanford is Hanford West.

"Getting here was huge," said coach Tim Caudillo of a program in its seventh year of existence. "We're so new, without tradition or history. We have 13 players coming back. Hopefully, this will be an annual thing."

The Huskies, who tied for second in the West Yosemite League, received 22 and 17 points from guards Jeff Martin and Mohamed Fara, a senior and arguably the best player in Tulare or Kings counties. He said he might play at Fresno City College next year.

It was Hanford West's fourth-straight loss to Tehachapi -- the first three being section quarterfinal decisions in 2004 and '05, and a nonleague contest last year.

The reporter can be reached at aboogaard@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6336.

Katie Avila Era Comes To An End

Posted February 26, 2007, by Tom Shea, The Tehachapi News

It was not the going out party that Tehachapi envisioned on the season, but arguably the state’s most talented playoff bracket helped dictate the inevitable for the Lady Warriors in a 62-33 loss to defending CIF Division II Championship runner-up Redwood.

“The season was a roller-coaster for sure, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Katie Avila. “I was happy with everything, in a lot of ways it went perfect.”

In the game’s early minutes against Redwood, the Rangers raced out to a quick 5-0 lead, and Avila picked up her second foul at the 5:52 mark of the first quarter, forcing the star to sit out early to preserve game time.

Tehachapi went toe-to-toe with Redwood through the first quarter, down only 11-8. Game highlights in the beginning period included an assist from Avila to Kasie Muro for first score at 4:23 mark, and an Ashley Asoau offensive board for Tehachapi’s second score at 3:10. Donna Crowley assisted on a pass to Avila for a score to end the first quarter.

Tehachapi had Muro, Avila and Asoau all with two fouls at the midway point of the second quarter and Redwood took advantage to race out to a 32-14 lead. Just as the second quarter was winding down, the power went out in the gym as Scarlett Dunn was fouled, forcing a Ranger player out of the game.

After halftime, Avila hit Asoau with an inside pass for Tehachapi’s 20th point with less than three minutes left in the second quarter, then Dunn nailed a three-pointer to make it 41-23 Redwood.

The Rangers dominated the rest of the contest to end Tehachapi’s season. “I love our coaches (Dennis Ruggles and Bill Carll), you couldn’t ask for any better,” added Avila. “To be a four-time champ in basketball was great and it was an honor to be apart of it.”

For Avila, the section quarterfinal game marked an end to a storied run as a pre-athlete for Tehachapi, finishing a four-year run for the Lady Warriors with 1,705 points and 882 rebounds in four seasons, both team records.

Along with the accolades, Avila takes with her a multitude of memories. “Freshman year was a great memory, playing with the older girls and having them push me around,” said Avila. “Also, beating North-Bakersfield and getting to Selland (CIF championship) was great. This season, winning against Arvin was probably the biggest one, we won the league championship together so there is a lot to be proud of.”