It wasn’t the ending that many on the Bonita Vista High School girls basketball team had envisioned, but it remains a life-changing event for almost everyone associated with the Lady Barons team.
Bonita Vista, making history as the school’s first girls basketball team to advance to the state championship game, finished runner-up on the scoreboard, 52-41, to Northern California regional champion Central Fresno last Saturday in Sacramento.
It was an uncharacteristic ending to an otherwise fabulous season that saw Bonita Vista, the Southern California regional champion, post a final 23-10 record.
The Lady Barons trailed, 15-10, after the first quarter and were out-scored 14-8 in the second quarter to trail 29-18 at halftime. Things went much better in the second half but the 11-point first-half disadvantage proved too much to make up against an obviously quality opponent.
Central Fresno (23-12) out-scored Bonita Vista by a 7-5 count in the third quarter before the Lady Barons were finally able to get into rhythm in the fourth quarter when they out-scored the Lady Grizzlies 18-16.
Players on the losing team still had much to be proud of.
“The game obviously didn’t go in our favor — we started off slow but gained momentum towards the end,” BVHS senior point guard Kaylyn Buchanon-Lamb said .” But by then it was too late. I’m not too upset by the results, because this is my first year going this far for state playoffs, so this was a new experience for me and my teammates. We worked very hard behind closed doors to get to where we are now, so overall I am satisfied with this season.”
The reigning Metro-Mesa League champions did themselves in by shooting just 14 percent from the floor in the first half as the Lady Grizzlies feasted on rebounds and missed shots.
Central out-rebounded the San Diego region team 60-48.
Bonita Vista head coach Tristan Lamb admitted the performance — 2-for-27 from three-point range and 15-for-81 from the field — just was not like his team.
The SoCal champs were behind from the get-go on a free throw by Central’s Talia Maxwell but caught up to tie the game at 5-all before assuming their only lead of the game at 7-5 on a free throw by Buchanon-Lamb.
The Lady Grizzlies took control of the game with 10 unanswered points to eventually build a 14-point lead. That lead ballooned to 17 points late in the third quarter.
Bonita Vista made a late run to narrow the score to seven points – 48-41 – but couldn’t get any closer on the scoreboard.
Maxwell finished what she started with the final bucket of the game for Central. But it was her rebounding — a Division II state single-game record 24 boards — to go with 24 points, six blocks and eight turnovers that quite appropriately sealed the championship for the Lady Grizzlies.
The numbers just weren’t there for Bonita Vista. During the season, Mahliya Wilson keyed the Lady Barons with 18.9 points per game while Alyssa Alvarado averaged 16.6 ppg.
Wilson had 14 points in the state final while Alvarado had just four points.
Buchanon-Lamb, who earned honors as the Metro-Mesa League Player of the Year for the 2022-23 season, averaged 14.2 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, 4.6 assists per game and 3.4 steals per game. She led the team with 17 points in the state final.