BC women still dominating

BC women still dominating

Amber Hayden

BC's Marissa Jones (12) and Alex Green (1) look to trap Mt. San Jacinto's Lailahni Tuaila (32) during the second half. BC will now play Irvine Valley

Mohamed Bafakih, Sports Editor

The last time head coach Paula Dahl and the Bakersfield College women’s basketball program earned a postseason bid was back in the 2006-07 season where the Renegades were eliminated by Antelope Valley College in the second round.

Eight years later, the Renegades played play AVC in yet another pivotal game – this time, however, with a Western State Conference South outright title at stake.

The Renegades showed a gutsy effort as they played in a 2-3 zone defensively for the first time all season and managed to hold the Marauders, who came in averaging just under 60 points per game, to just 43 points.

Despite a conference-low scoring night from sophomore Nakia Page, as she finished with just eight points on sophomore night, three other sophomores managed to get into double-figures. Claesey Tarver and Rosebrooke Hunt each scored a team-high of 12 points and Yoemma Esparza added 11 points of her own leading to a 52-43 BC win on Feb. 21, and completing a perfect second half of conference play and a celebratory cutting of the net down for the third time in the program’s history in front of a packed house at Gil Bishop Sports Center.

“That’s what I continue to say is the essence of this team… the fact that we are deep and can go deep,” Dahl said after the conference-clinching title victory – the first outright title in the program’s 36 years.

Although Page in her regular season finale was held to just eight points, she along with Tarver, Hunt, Esparza and fellow sophomore Alex Green would be named to All-Conference honors the following week.

Page and Dahl would collect the top honors respectively for the WSC South Division, as Page, who averaged 17.8 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game, took home the MVP award and Dahl with the Coach of the Year award for the fourth time in her 20-year tenure at BC.

The remainder of the starting five would also respectively finish with First Team All-WSC South honors.

With a 22-4 record, the Renegades were granted the sixth seed in the So-Cal Regional Playoffs on Feb. 23, automatically putting them in the second round.

However, this is as far as the program has gotten in 15 years when BC, as a 15-seed, lost to Mt. San Antonio College, 78-73 in the 2000-01 regional playoffs.

The Renegades hosted the 11th-seeded Eagles of Mt. San Jacinto College (24-5) on Feb. 28.

BC came into the final day of February undefeated for the month at 6-0 and looked to keep the momentum going.

A hot start for the Renegades put them up by as many as 17 points with 7 minutes 30 seconds remaining in the first half, but the Eagles managed to cut it to 10 by halftime.

In the second half, the Eagles kept soaring and managed to even cut it to one point but in a back-and-forth game, reigning WSC South MVP, Page, put the finishing touches scoring 14 of her 19 points in the second half, including big buckets from the elbow to lead the Renegades to as far they have gotten in over 20 years.

“I don’t want it to end,” Dahl said. “We want to go all the way and I believe in this team 100 percent.”

It is down to eight teams in the region, and Bakersfield College being one of them, will take its 14-2 record away from Gil Bishop to third-seeded Irvine Valley (26-3) now in the third round on Wednesday as they are the only remaining team from both the North and South division of the WSC to be represented.

“I get to go play my old college teammate, and I’m fired up,” Dahl said, as she was speaking on Irvine Valley head coach Julie Hanks who Dahl played with at Northern Arizona University in the mid ’80s.

If Bakersfield wins, it will need the help of No. 7 El Camino College, which plays No. 2 East L.A. in order to host a fourth round home game on March 7 and a possible shot of earning a Final Four bid. Otherwise, the Renegades will need to keep carrying their success on the road toward the Road to State.