How does one team redeem itself after losing in the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA title game?
By winning the school’s first ever CIF state girls basketball playoff game at home, which is exactly what Cabrillo did in its 60-43 romp of Bakersfield Golden Valley on Wednesday in Vandenberg Village to advance in the CIF State Division III Southern bracket.
The 'Conq Crazies' student section began chanting “Start the bus” toward the Golden Valley side with the final seconds ticking away. Then, the crowd erupted in glee after CHS players rung the bell next to the front door entrance – signifying another CHS win.
And for the Conqs (27-3 overall), they chose not to return to their home floor moping about what could’ve been in Saturday's loss to Downey Warren. Head coach Jared McCune sent this message to his team before the contest against the visiting Bulldogs.
“The message was: ‘Come out with the same energy we’ve had all season and be able to bounce back from a tough loss,’” McCune said.
Cabrillo found itself in a close battle early on – as the Bulldogs showed their relentless energy on the floor, especially on fast break chances. Tiffany Amos and Taja Holiday-Ball were mainly responsible for energizing the offensive attack for the Central Section Division III runner-ups – sinking the 3-point baskets and finding holes in the Conqs’ interior defense by driving to the lane.
But, Valerie Monzon hit a rare 3-pointer by spinning away from her defender and banking the long basket – as time expired in the second quarter. That basket broke a 25-25 tie.
From there, it was all gas no breaks for CHS on both ends of the floor. Erin Jenkins led the scoring and passing charge, while Jesse Jenkins, Monzon, Amani Childres and Alyssa Stewart got involved in the scoring for the Conqs.
The CHS defense – a major blueprint of success for McCune’s team all season long – began to slow down this high-powered offensive machine from Kern County. Cabrillo began throwing double and triple teams underneath its own basket, then proceeded to add more points through its steals and layups. The Conqs surrendered just 18 second half points to the Bulldogs.
“The first half was a battle and you wonder, will they be able to react? And they did in the second half. I’m really proud of them,” McCune said. “They matched us up energy wise – they had good athletes and could drive the ball. They also shot the ball better than we anticipated. We made some adjustments at halftime and the girls came out and executed. It was great.”
The biggest thing McCune preached to the girls was don’t leave someone open by going after a live ball.
“Defensively, we were in our zone but we were chasing the ball,” McCune said. “And when we chase the ball, we leave a shooter open. I told the girls that we match up, but we stay on the girl who is in our area of the zone instead of chasing the ball. That frustrated them and slowed them down.”
As McCune celebrated with his team, family and former players, Jenkins was flanked by supportive classmates who attended the game. The senior Jenkins said she couldn’t wait to redeem herself from Saturday along with the Conqs.
“We needed it bad,” Jenkins said. “I think having the home game helped us to get our confidence back up again.”
Cabrillo returned home in the CIF State DIII Southern bracket on Saturday in a rematch against Fullerton Sunny Hills, which was a 56-34 winner over Saugus on Wednesday. Cabrillo beat Sunny Hills in the Div. 3AA semifinals, 49-39 on Feb. 24.
A full recap of Saturday's game can be found on lompocrecord.com.