BY STEVE LYNCH Special to The Californian
Bakersfield High girls basketball coach Jimmy Henry got only 50-percent of what he wanted from his team on Thursday night.
Fortunately for the Drillers, it turned out to be just enough.
BHS rallied from a sluggish first half to top visiting Centennial 36-34 in a Southwest Yosemite League showdown.
Down 20-8 at halftime, the Drillers outscored the Golden Hawks 28-14 in the second half.
"I try to tell my team if you win each quarter, one quarter at a time, you'll win at the end of the game," Henry said. "Unfortunately we didn't play the first half, but we played the second half."
Zharia McCollum had 10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 assists for BHS (14-10, 4-0 SWYL) which came into the night tied with Stockdale atop the SWYL standings.
Kylah McMillon's three-point play with 24 seconds left provided the winning margin for the Drillers.
Centennial (11-5, 2-2 SWYL) led the entire game until McMillon muscled her way inside and scored as she was surrounded by a trio of defenders.
"I was really nervous,"McMillon said. "It was really hectic under there. We kept getting the rebounds. We had to really hustle."
Freshman Taylor Madden led the Golden Hawks with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"The girls have to understand that the game of basketball is four quarters," Centennial coach Clayton Madden said. "We put two great quarters together...The second half we lost our focus, got out of our game-plan and we got burned."
Centennial led by as many as 14 points in the first half.
The Golden Hawks were able to take advantage of the Drillers' 3-of-25 first-half shooting and seize the early momentum.
But BHS' pressure defense caused Centennial's offense to become rushed and disjointed in the second half.
The Drillers' shooting woes also disappeared in the third quarter.
Tiana Henry heated up after intermission, scoring nine points in the second half after being scoreless in the first two quarters.
She also had nine rebounds and 3 assists.
BHS made 10-of-24 of its second-half shots from inside the arc, including a 12-foot baseline jump shot by McCollum to start the second half.
That basket began a pivotal 10-4 run that pulled BHS to within four with three minutes remaining in the quarter.
From there the Drillers chipped away at Centennial's lead until McMillon finally put them over the top.
"We're really happy," McMillon said. "We knew it was going to be tough, but we did it."