An early victory

Lady Barons varsity basketball team win first round of CIF vs MHH, 63-49


Angelina Ruckman

Point guard and senior Alyssa Alvarado (2) pump fakes the ball to get around her defender and throws up a three-pointer. She successfully makes the shot in as her family and audience watch intensely from the stands.

Isaiah Benitez, Staff Writter

On Feb. 28, Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) varsity girls’ basketball team—the number one seed— faced off against Birmingham High School (BHS)—the number sixteen seed—in the first round of the Division II 2023 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Girls Basketball Championships. BVH lost a previous open division match to Mission Hills High, which resulted in the Lady Barons being placed in the second division state championships, but as a result of their 22-9 regular season record, they still earned the highest seed in the state playoffs.

The BVH gym had a big crowd—both old and young—cheering on the Lady Barons. Whilst the players of both teams were warming up in preparation for the state game, the looming presence of the coveted “home game crowd” grew bigger, the excitement for the game was evident because of the large turnout.

As the game began, the careful battle of stamina slowly turned into three minutes of missed layups and repossessions of the ball from both teams. Around halfway through the first quarter, the scoreboard read a solemn 2-2. Frustrated, Head Varsity Coach Tristan Lamb called for a timeout to instill some much needed fervor to motivate the girls.

“I told them [that] we’re the number one seed and we have to act like it. At that moment, we weren’t acting like we were the number one seed so we had to settle down and get everything in order and make sure that we went out there and showed that we’re number one,” Lamb said.

The Lady Barons took their coach’s speech to heart and were more than ready to prove that they were worthy of the “number one seed” title. BVH shooting guard and junior Mahliya Wilson (1) gained a great sense of level-headedness after the timeout which helped the team tremendously.

“I felt like that was a good decision to bring us in and slow us down just to make sure we’re calm and keep everything composed just so [that] we could get this win,” Wilson said.

The Lady Barons kept a high scoring pace throughout the remainder of the period. Wilson sank one of two free throws and sent off the quarter with BVH leading by a lead of 16-11. 

Once the second quarter started, BVH was striving to control the game. The passion of those in the stands only increased as the game progressed. The cheers, the billowing chants of “DE-FENSE,” and repeated oo’s and ah’s from the crowd amplified the tension of the game as the score increased and the time decreased. No singular moment of the game encapsulated the crowd’s enthusiasm than when they witnessed an alleged missed travel call on the opposing team, which resulted in the BVH supporters to stand, point and holler to the backs of the referees officiating the game. Point guard and senior Alyssa Alvarado (2) more than enjoyed the everloving fervor of the home game crowd.

“I’m definitely one of the players that plays off of the momentum of the gym and how the crowd is doing. I think that having fans really helps,” Alvarado said. 

The second quarter came to an end with BVH point guard and senior Kaylyn Buchanon-Lamb (3) scoring a layup with eight seconds left on the clock, leading BVH to maintain their five point lead from the end of the first quarter. The score settled at 27-22 for halftime.

After their respective halftime meetings, both BVH and BHS returned to the gym to warm up for the rest of their game. As they warmed up, a stern, focused aura seemed to surround BVH players like never before. Of the players warming up, a mental spotlight seemed to form around Alvarado, who sank three-pointer after three-pointer to warm up. 

The third quarter opened with an initial rebounded shot from Alvarado turning into a layup from BVH shooting guard and sophomore Jamiya Valenciano (10). Communicative plays like this continued throughout the quarter. BVH led the game 34-26—a twelve point lead over BHS. The aforementioned plays were achievable due to BVH’s team chemistry. 

“I think our chemistry is a lot better. We’re playing together more [and] we’re playing more team basketball,” Lamb said.

Being down by twelve points, BHS head coach called a timeout so they could reduce the wide gap in points between themselves and BVH. Once the game continued, BHS played ferociously, ending the third quarter with a three-pointer. BVH maintained a well established six point lead over their opponents, the score being 44-38 going into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter began with BHS scoring a quick layup, which was immediately followed by the Lady Barons repossessing the ball, speeding across the court, and getting a layup of their own. Throughout the last period, the BVH Associated Student Body (ASB) members who were operating ticket sales and concessions came to the stands and belted out BVH chants. BVH played hard for the entirety of the quarter, using their speed and defensive prowess to continually rob the ball from the Patriots. 

“We take advantage of our defense because our defense is our offense. So we get those turnovers, we use our speed, and we get easy baskets,” Lamb said.

The fourth quarter hosted a great performance from Wilson, who was disappointed in her early game performance. Wilson’s execution was noted by teammates who credit her with a lot of key decisions. 

“Mahliya towards the end of the game, she was really helping us. She was attacking the basket and drawing the most fouls that we really needed,” Alvarado said. 

With only one minute and twenty seven seconds left in the game, BHS called for a timeout while trailing BVH by ten points. When the game resumed, the Lady Barons only grew their lead, ending their first round of state with a winning score of 63-49.