Jun. 11—Orcutt Academy's CIF championship game against Bakersfield Christian figured to be a battle.
The Spartans were the top seed in the CIF Central Section Division 4 bracket. The Eagles were the second seed.
Orcutt Academy came in with a 9-5 record on the season and Bakersfield Christian was 15-5.
As it turns out, the contest wasn't much of a challenge for Orcutt Academy.
The Spartans were too quick and too aggressive with their high-pressure defense, turning the game into a track meet that Orcutt Academy won 69-49 to capture the school's first CIF championship in girls basketball.
"It's amazing," Spartans coach Tom Robb said. "These girls really, really worked hard. All the credit goes to them. As you saw, we kept our pressure on and we're going to keep doing that and go win a state title."
Robb was even surprised, if not downright impressed, by how dominant his club was Thursday.
"To be honest, I was a bit surprised. We were prepared for a tough game," Robb said. "But I did study them and I did know what their weakness would be and it was pressure. Our pressure really does what it needs to do."
Orcutt Academy's guards were stellar and far too much to handle for Bakersfield Christian, which would've preferred a slow, half-court battle that favored their standout post player, Dame Sule.
Instead, juniors Giselle Calderon and Chyanna Medina-Tell forced the turnovers that sparked the Spartans' transition offense.
Medina-Tell had a near flawless offensive performance, pouring in a game-high 25 points. Calderon nearly matched her, scoring 20 points of her own.
"I thought of it as just another game," Medina-Tell said. "That helps you not get psyched out. We played well as a team, we played connected and that's all that matters. I score off the team's energy. It feels good having this team behind me. It's an amazing feeling being a part of this team."
Sophomore guard Diaminsol Malicdem led the team's full-court press defense and added nine points.
Senior Erynn Padhal had 10 points for the Spartans.
Sophomores Khaelli Robertson and Devyn Kendrick teamed up to slow down Sule, who came into the game averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds a game. Sule had 20 points. Jordyn Toler had 18 for the Eagles.
"We knew she was going to get her points," Robb said of Sule. "We tried to work on her not getting her second chances. But she's good. She's a beast and she pushes people around. She does a great job of that."
It took a few minutes for the Spartans to take control Thursday night at Lakeview Junior High.
They went ahead 11-7 in the first quarter and a Calderon 3-pointer grew the lead to 14-7. A 3-pointer from Medina-Tell gave the Spartans a 19-7 lead.
Bakersfield Christian went on a little run to cut the lead to 21-16.
It wouldn't get any closer. A 3-pointer from Calderon made it 26-16. A Medina-Tell bucket, two free throws from Calderon and a Malicdem steal that led to another Medina-Tell basket made the score 32-18.
Calderon made a circus shot in the paint to put the Spartans ahead 34-18 and the rout was on. The Spartans led 38-24 at the break and the lead swelled to 58-32 after three quarters. A Medina-Tell layup made it 62-34 and the Eagles made the score a bit more respectable in the waning moments.
"Our speed helped and our mis-matches," Robb said. "We noticed that. Chyanna definitely took advantage of mis-matches on her. We saw that with the starting lineup that she would have that. Giselle is Giselle. I mean, 1,000 points as a junior. That's amazing what she's done for this program."
While holding the CIF championship plaque, Calderon said "I feel that this is well-deserved. We worked our tails off to get where we're at right now. It was great having another home game, we used that and came out and put the pedal to the metal."
Before the team received its championship trophy, Calderon was honored for passing the 1,000-point mark in her career during Thursday's game.
"I had no idea I had 1,000 points," Calderon said. "It feels unimaginably amazing. I can't put into perspective how honored I feel to do that for my school."
Now the state playoffs are up this coming week.
"We still have so much room to grow and we can keep getting better," Calderon said.
The Spartans' roster features Medina-Tell, Calderon, Kendrick, Robertson, Padhal, Malicdem, Kathryn Cardona, Chelsea Rojo, Gabby Armenta, Mia Casares and Lauren Picek.