BARSTOW • In their latest game, the Lady Aztecs took down a team with only one loss on the season. And they did it in front of a big home crowd on senior night.
The Barstow girls basketball team hosted Riverside Prep on Friday, for their final home match of the season. Just before tip-off, the Lady Aztecs honored their eight seniors, then went out and dismantled the Silver Knights, 62-32, at Barstow High School.
Riverside started the night with an overall record of 13-1, an undefeated 7-0 in the Cross Valley League, and an eight-game win streak. Despite those gaudy numbers, the Aztecs' victory was never in doubt. They led from buzzer to buzzer, getting the game's first field goal, and steadily widening that lead as the minutes ticked down.
The large senior night crowd played a part, according to head coach Anthony Nolen.
"Playing in front of a big home crowd definitely gave us a lot of energy. With both sides of the gym filled, the girls wanted to give the crowd a good game," he said. "I didn't even give a pre-game speech, the seniors gave it."
And the seniors put on a good show. Marissa Dado scored in every quarter and finished with a game-high 23 points, while Kayla Theis was the general on the floor, doing a commanding job running the point as well as pumping in 16 points. Vasa Alefaio was also in double figures with 11 points.
While the offense was collecting points, the Aztec defense kept the Silver Knights rattled all night. Players like Eboni Burns, Marion Mims, Maxine Cook, Vanessa Robinson and Sharon Green weren't high scorers, but all played solid defense and consistently hustled up and down the floor.
"We played great defense, probably our best defense all year," said coach Nolen, who added that playing a non-Desert Sky League team may have been a factor. "Seeing a team from outside the league kept us focused. Not once did I have to get up and yell and scream. They just let the game come to them."
The Aztecs held a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, and had expanded that edge to 14 points by halftime. Any hopes the Silver Knights may have had of trying to disrail Barstow by coming strong out of the gate after the break were dashed when the Aztecs scored six unanswered points in the first minute of the third. That quarter was Barstow's best, as it scored 16 points while holding Riverside to just three. When the fourth began, the Aztecs were up, 46-19.
It was a great last game the team gave the Barstow fans. And while they were more than happy with the outcome, it was a bittersweet night for the Lady Aztec seniors.
"It was exciting, but sad," said Theis of senior night. "This season has been fun; exciting and sometimes scary, but fun."
"It's been a fun season, even though I feel like I didn't play to my full potential until tonight," said Burns.
Robinson felt the big, noisy crowd helped.
"It's better when people are encouraging you, it really motivated us to do good," she said. "This season's been really fun. This team is like my second family."
"It's been an up and down season, but I still love my team," she said. "The big crowd was kind of nerve-wracking, but it made us want to do more."
"The season's been great. We win together and lose together, and in the end, we're still a family," said Rajamae Stone. "This is a big group of sisters."
Though it was the last home game, the Lady Aztecs still have two away games to go before the postseason. Coach Nolen is hoping Friday's big win will give his team a boost in confidence.
"Maybe this gives us a spark," he said. "I was looking for anything we can change going into the last two games. If we keep playing like we did tonight, we'll be fine."
The Lady Aztecs (11-10, 5-5) will be at Silverado Wednesday, and at Granite Hills next Friday.