Saturday was a rewarding day for the Barstow Community College basketball program, as both the men's and women's teams picked up wins.
For the Lady Vikings, the game wasn't quite a must-win, but very close to it.
"We're right on the bubble to make the postseason," said women's coach Tim Woods after his squad's victory. "We definitely needed a win today. If we win three of our last four, we'll definitely qualify."
Barstow went up against Cerro Coso College of Ridgecrest and ended up on top by a 60-49 score.
Even if the Coyotes win the rest of their games, they still won't make the postseason, and as such were just looking to be spoilers on Saturday. Toward that end, they did a decent job, as they stayed competitive for the entire match.
As for the Vikings, they were given a jump-start by their leading scorer. The home team began the game on a 7-0 run, with all seven points scored by Nisha Barrett. The Barstow High graduate went on to put 13 points on the board in the first half.
"Barrett's been playing great," said Woods. "She made the big plays today every time we needed it."
It was a game of runs for both teams. The Vikings built up a double-digit edge more than once in the first, but the Coyotes kept clawing their way back in. Coso's biggest offensive threat is Taylor Boske, and she kept her team in it, also netting 13 points in the first 20 minutes. By halftime, Barstow was ahead, 29-20.
The see-saw kept up in the second. The Coyotes, who trailed by 14 early in the half, went on a run, sparked by two 3-pointers by Charmaine Lowe, and cut the deficit to just four points with seven minutes to go. That was followed by a technical foul drawn by the Coso coach, with Barrett making both free throws, and Barstow took back control. With Barrett still scoring, and points off the bench from Clarnisha Williams and Jazmyne Smith, the Vikings had their lead all the way up to 19.
Then came the game's last couple of minutes, which contained far too many whistles. Though a comeback was unlikely, the Coyotes committed a few fouls just to try to gain back possession. The fouls committed by the Vikings, however, were harder to explain.
"I wasn't proud of that. We gave up about 10 points in the last minute at the free throw line," said coach Woods. "Maybe we were a little overanxious trying to make the plays, but we can't afford to put teams at the line like that. I like us being aggressive, but we have to learn to control it.
"We'll be addressing it in practice."
Barrett did it all on Saturday, scoring 26 points, to go with eight rebounds, six steals and three blocks. Jasmine Brooks had seven points and six rebounds, and Ieshia Alladin five points and six assists.
Boske was the only Coyote in double figures, with 25 points.
The win gives the Vikings records of 17-7 overall, 6-4 in the Foothill Conference.
How things shake out for postseason play depends not only on what Barstow does in its remaining games, but also what other teams in the conference do over the next couple of weeks. The more wins the better, of course, but at least two wins are needed in the last four games for the Vikings to have a shot; three or four wins would definitely punch the team's ticket.
"I think we're ready," said Woods. "We need to stay focused. I'll get a better idea of how focused we are in our next practice."
Men outdistance Roadrunners
The men's team took on Rio Hondo College after the women's victory, and earned a 'W' of its own, finishing up on the fat side of a 90-73 score.
In this case, both teams were playing for pride, as neither is eligible for the playoffs. It would be difficult to discern that by watching the game, however, as both squads played hard for all 40 minutes.
"They beat us last time at their place, so we avenged that loss," said Vikings coach Reggie Howard. "They're a scrappy team. Their coach (Steve Hebert) has been coaching for 20 years, longer than I have, and I know he'll always coach right up to the end."
Like the women's game, this one was back and forth for most of the duration. The Vikings held a lead for most of the first half before the Roadrunners started chipping away. Hondo's Landon Mott had a big afternoon, besting his average of 11 points-per-game in the first half, when he pumped in 13 points. His steal and fastbreak with two minutes left in the first tied the score at 36-all. But that was all the Roadrunners would get in the first; a put-back at the buzzer by Barstow's Brian Organ put his team on top by four at the break.
The Vikings were able to hold the lead through the second, though it was by single digits for most of the half. After not being much of a factor in the first, Barstow's leading scorer Abdul Zaid scored 13 points in the second, while Cheikh Fall, after getting just two points on foul shots in the first, scored 10 points in the second.
Though Zaid finished with 19 points, and Fall and Quamaine Crymes with 12 apiece, the biggest offensive game was turned in by Barstow's Erik Burns. Burns proved impossible to stop, knocking down nine field goals, six of the from downtown, to collect a game-high 25 points.
"Burns shot very well, he's a good standing shooter," said Howard. "He's always the first one in the gym and the last one to leave, so it's nice to see his hard work pay off."
The coach made a few adjustments from the last time he faced Hondo.
"Last time we played a 2-3 zone and just chased them around. They shot late and we got winded chasing them," he said. "Today we focused on getting at their shooters."
The Roadrunners like the outside shot, and took their chances from beyond the arc, but were less successful with that than the last time.
"They were below 40 percent from outside," said Howard. "They shot 67 percent last time, so that was a big difference."
The two teams traded three's at times. Five different Vikings picked up treys on Saturday, led by Burns' six. Mott finished with 23 points for Hondo, including three 3-pointers. Timmy Wong had 18 points and led the Roadrunners from outside, with four buckets.
The Vikings are now 7-16 overall, 2-6 in the conference, with Hondo falling to 4-18, 2-8.
Both Vikings teams have four games left in the regular season. Only one of those is at home, with Barstow hosting Victor Valley on Feb. 15. The women's game starts at 5 p.m., and the men at 7.