The Buhach Colony girls basketball team gathered behind their bench after Tuesday night’s playoff game against Bear Creek.
As they broke the huddle they yelled, “We made history.”
The eleventh-seeded Thunder became the first BC girls basketball team to win a playoff game with a 60-47 win over No. 6 Bear Creek (22-6) in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 playoffs.
“It’s amazing to get this opportunity,” said senior Taj Seals, after scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds. “This is something Buhach Colony hasn’t done before.”
Buhach Colony advances to the quarterfinals on Thursday against No. 3 seed Del Oro, which defeated Whitney 58-34 on Tuesday.
The Thunder won in dominant fashion, pressuring the Bruins into 24 turnovers and leaving Bear Creek with nothing left in the tank in the fourth quarter.
“Our strategy was just to destroy them,” Seals said. “We wanted to do it playing smart and aggressive.”
Seals made sure this wasn’t going to be her final basketball game and turned in one of her top performances of her career.
Fellow senior Allison Wisdom was also playing to continue her career. All Wisdom did was score 29 points to go a long with seven rebounds and three steals.
“It feels pretty exciting,” Wisdom said. “There’s a lot of emotion right now. I know when we lost to Merced and lost league I was really disappointed. I’m just not ready to stop playing with this team. We keep improving.”
The Thunder used their speed advantage to cause havoc with their full-court press. Buhach Colony ran away from the Bruins in the second quarter with a 10-0 run to start the quarter.
Wisdom scored 10 points in the second quarter, including two of her four 3-pointers, to help the Thunder open up a 34-20 lead at the half. Bear Creek turned the ball over 13 times in the second quarter.
The Thunder did a great job of limiting the Bruins to just one shot with Seals, Brandy Coward and Barbara Coward controlling the boards.
“What allowed that to happen was our defensive rebounding,” Buhach Colony coach Shane Gentry said. “We definitely wanted to keep them off the boards. We wanted to try a couple things with our press with our full court man and zone. It appeared when we were in man they had a difficult time, killing their dribble.”
Bear Creek played more under control in the second half. Ashlyn Jones scored eight of her 19 points in the third quarter as the Bruins cut the Thunder lead to 42-36 with 1:21 left in the third.
However, Wisdom drained a big 3 in the final minute and Seals made a free throw to push the lead back to 46-36 heading to the fourth.
Bear Creek look exhausted in the fourth as the Thunder used a 14-2 run to extend their lead to 60-40 with just under 4 minutes left in the game.
“I could tell they didn’t like the tempo,” Gentry said. “There were times when I could see a couple players just standing. That’s when I told our girls to go.”
Added Wisdom: “I think a lot of it was we were quicker player for player across the board. We just dug down deep when we got tired. We realized it was win or go home.”
The Thunder may have fell short of their goal of winning a Central California Conference title, but a playoff win is a nice consolation.
“Finishing in second in league was a big disappointment, but this erases that,” Gentry said. “We did something nobody has done before at our school.”
St. Mary’s 92, Merced 47, in Stockton – Lexi Thompson had a big night, pouring in 21 points in her second career playoff game, but Merced couldn’t keep pace with top-seeded St. Mary’s. Dalonna Jones added 12 points in the loss.
McNair 70, Atwater 21, in Stockton – The Atwater girls did a nice job holding top-seeded McNair under its scoring average in Division 2 action. The Falcon offense struggled against the Eagles, however.