Vikings begin Foothill play
BARSTOW • In a Saturday afternoon of basketball, the Lady Vikings tacked on another win in their quest for a league title.
It was the Foothill Conference opener, and the home team was ready. The Lady Vikings led from the start and faltered a bit down the stretch, but pulled out a 75-69 win over Rio Hondo, at Barstow Community College.
Thoughts of dominating the league aren’t what Barstow is usually entertaining at this time of year. This year’s Lady Vikings have gotten off to a quick start, however, and the squad is coalescing into a tight unit.
“With every game this team is growing, and it’s scary,” said head coach Tim Woods. “To me, we haven’t played our best basketball yet, but today was another step.”
The Lady Vikings dominated the first half, holding a 43-31 lead at halftime. The margin would have been larger except for Rio’s Klarissa Ayala, who kept her team in it by draining four 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. For Barstow, Ebony Black-Smith was tough inside, netting 14 first-half points, while BreAnna Fraser scored 12 points.
Coach Woods is pleased with his team’s chatter on the court, and that communication is one of the major factors in the Vikings’ success. There’s also the leadership of Fraser, who in her second year of running the point is showing a confidence that wasn’t evident last season. She shared the point guard duties last year, but has the job to herself now and is relishing the responsibility.
“I didn’t really know my role last year, but this year I know what my role is, and I’ve accepted it,” said the Lady Vikings sophomore. “Coach tells us communication is key, and the point guard is the general on the floor.”
“She’s our team leader right now,” said Woods of Fraser. “She’s confident of what she’s doing this year.”
Barstow kept building on its lead in the second half, up by 23 at one point. The Lady Vikings bench saw a good amount of court time in the second half.
That big lead started to vanish down the stretch, though the BCC win wasn’t ever in any danger. With the victory seemingly in hand, Woods felt his players relaxed a bit too much.
“We got comfortable. We played good defense until the last few minutes,” said the coach. “We got scoreboard watching and relaxed a bit. Other teams won’t give up, we have to remember that. Rio is a well-coached team and I knew they wouldn’t give up.”
Fraser and Black-Smith shared the offensive honors, scoring 22 points each, while Megan Miles was also in double figures, with 14 points. Ayala led the Lady Roadrunners with 18 points, all from the outside.
The win puts the Lady Vikings at 12-8 overall, 1-0 in the Foothill. Rio falls to 7-11, 0-1.
Barstow will play at Victor Valley on Wednesday at 5 p.m., and will be at San Bernardino Valley next Saturday.
Rio Hondo 88, BCC 77
BARSTOW • The BCC men’s team played in the nightcap, and lost by an 88-77 score to the Roadrunners on Saturday.
The Vikings are having a tougher time of it than their female counterpart this year, still looking for their second win, and were additionally hurt by having two starters sick with the flu this week. Both Brandon Erwin and Javone Rabon had their floor time limited against Rio, with Rabon scoring only nine points. The freshman not only leads Barstow in scoring, but is second in the league with an average of 24.8 points per game, so having him under the weather is costly for the Vikings.
Still, BCC head coach Gerry Wright didn’t want to hear that used as an excuse.
“In the army, when someone isn’t available, you close ranks and keep on marching,” he said after Saturday’s game. “This team is listening, but it’s time to execute. I’ve heard enough excuses.”
Even with the handicap of the sick players, BCC kept the game close through the first half. That was due in large part to the outside shooting of Daniel Gampe and Cedric Young, both of whom were hot from 3-point-land. The pair kept tossing up shots from the perimeter and most went in during the first 20 minutes, with four three’s for each. Barstow, up by seven at one point, still held a 43-37 halftime lead.
That edge evaporated quickly once the second started. The Roadrunners began the half on a 7-0 run, and were up, 44-43, when the Vikings called a timeout at 1:50 in.
“In the second, we didn’t have the same intensity, we didn’t come out attacking,” said coach Wright. “In the first we attacked and got those three’s. Teams aren’t going to lie down for us, they’ll fight back, and we have to match that intensity.”
Nate Lopez picked up some of the slack, draining three 3-pointers at key moments. The Barstow High School grad had 14 points, all in the second half. Raul Saenz also came off the bench to score 14 points.
“I’ve been trying to get him to be more aggressive,” said Wright of Saenz. “And I’m proud of how Nate played. He’ll go tough on offense, but defense is sometimes an issue. I told him, show me what you can do on defense, and he stepped it up.”
Young’s 18 points led the Vikings, while Gampe had 16 points. The game high-scorer was the Roadrunners’ Jonathan Cortez, who had 21 points. Cortez was relentless inside in the first half, scoring 20 points, but sank just a free throw in the second, thanks in part to the defense of Lopez.
The loss puts BCC at 1-15, 0-1, with the Roadrunners now 6-11, 1-0.
The Vikings will be at Victor Valley on Wednesday, for a 7 p.m. start.