APPLE VALLEY — Mark Fraser admits that his Barstow girls basketball team might be just the second most talented team in the Desert Sky League.
Fortunately for Fraser and the Aztecs, even if that assessment is true, talent and results don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
Barstow edged Granite Hills 47-41 Wednesday on the road to wrap up the outright DSL title for the first time since 2010.
Barstow (17-6) currently sits atop the league with an 10-1 record with one game to go in the regular season. Barstow closes out the season at home against Adelanto on Friday.
But just because the record looks dominant doesn’t mean the journey hasn’t been a battle. The Aztecs needed a modest second half rally to put Granite Hills (12-7, 5-6 DSL) away after holding on to beat the Cougars by just a point in their last meeting.
“I’m going to be honest with you. This year has been exhausting,” said Fraser, the Barstow coach. “We are probably the second best team in the league. Arguably, Granite can say they are better than us. They literally beat us and gave us the second game we played them and they had us tonight too. Just our wherewithal paid off.
“We are the DSL champs, but I’ll tell you we earned every bit of it,” Fraser said. “There’s no doubt that these girls fought and they had to take it. No one gave it to us.”
Granite Hills took control of the game in the second quarter. The Cougars limited Barstow to just four points for the quarter on their way to a 22-20 lead at halftime.
Then Granite Hills started the second half on a 8-4 run and opened a six-point lead on Barstow. But that was as big as the lead got.
Barstow sophomore Amanda Wilson tied the game at 32l with about minute left in the third quarter. Senior Tasha Jackson gave Barstow a two-point edge before the end of the third quarter and the Aztecs didn’t trail again. Senior Annemarie Hernandez, who tied for the team lead with 12 points, made it a two-possession game at 43-39 with about three and half minutes left.
“Honestly, I knew we were going to get it together eventually,” Hernandez said. “I knew we had it in us. We start off slow but then we pick it up and it all falls together.”
Granite Hills’ Ocheanna Evans hit a jumper with 1:10 left to make it a three-point game, but the Cougars weren't able to get any closer than that. They struggled at the foul line late in the game, making just 5 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“The game before they beat us by one,” Granite Hills coach Robert Gibbs said. “This game we didn’t make our free throws. They didn’t give up. They played through it made a couple baskets down the stretch, got a few tough rebounds on us and that’s what it boils down to.”
Brooke Fraser also scored 12 points for Barstow and Inayalena Paopao added 11 points.
Anyssia Gibbs led Granite Hills with 18 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and eight steals. Kayla Cady had 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and six steals and Evans chipped in four points, 17 rebounds and three steals.
Granite Hills wraps up the regular season with a road game against Silverado on Friday.
Hernandez 12, Fraser 12, Paopao 11, Jackson 8, Earley 2, Wilson 2.
Granite Hills (41)
Gibbs 18, Cady 11, Rollins 7, Evans 4.
Bar. 16 4 14 13 — 47
GH 10 12 10 9 — 41
3-point field goals — Barstow 2 (Paopao); Granite Hills 1 (Gibbs).
Matthew Peters can be reached at 760-955-5365 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter @DP_MattPeters.