BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer email@example.com
Same old, same old: Stockdale's girls basketball team took control of the Southwest Yosemite League race Tuesday night, beating host Bakersfield 69-49 for the Mustangs' 71st victory in their past 73 league games.
But something about this year's team is different: These aren't your older sister's full-court pressing, running, gunning Mustangs -- with only seven players on the roster, they've got to be slower and more calculating.
"We've had kids getting sick, kids getting hurt, missing practice," Mustangs co-coach Glenn Hager said. "We've never done so much 2-2-1 (less aggressive) pressing, but we have to, because it conserves energy and keeps us out of foul trouble."
But the slower version of Stockdale (17-4, 5-0 SWYL) is just as ruthless. Against BHS, Leigha Moland's 16 points led four Mustangs in double figures. Jazmin Miller and Nakia Page each had 13 points, Asia Cooks had 12 and Dakota Oliver had eight points and 15 rebounds.
"It's cool for us that we're not a one-man team," Moland said. "It's kind of hard for other teams to pick out one of us to stop when we're all hitting like this."
Bakersfield (13-12, 4-1) trailed 17-16 early in the second quarter before Stockdale launched an 11-0 run. The Mustangs then scored the first eight points of the second half to stretch the lead to 20.
"It ain't what they did," BHS coach Jimmy Henry said. "We missed four or five layups and a bunch of free throws in the first quarter. If we make those, we're winning the game. We didn't focus and make the extra pass. We made unforced turnovers."
The Drillers, led by Zharia McCollum's 16 points, pulled within 12 a couple of times early in the fourth quarter but got no closer.
"I feel very good about where we're at," Henry said. "We were fighting for first place, and I felt we were ready. Now we just need to take it one game at a time, get back to Stockdale without a loss and fight for first again."
That's easier said than done against the Mustangs, who have won seven in a row since an overtime loss to Clovis on Jan. 8.
"I think about that game every morning and every night before I go to sleep," Moland said.
And the fact Stockdale is doing it in a decidedly non-Stockdale way? That's not bothering anyone.
"At first, I was worried we were going to have to slow it down so much," Moland said. "I knew we'd be good, but we were used to pressing 24/7. We've just had to do something new."