GBK: Seniors step up in Bishop’s first state tourney win

Members of the Bishop Diego football team storm the court and bowl over girls basketball team after its state tournament victory over Bakersfield Christian on Wednesday night (Photos by Thomas Salgado Jr.)

The Bishop Diego girls basketball team is mobbed by members of the football team after its state tournament victory over Bakersfield Christian on Wednesday night. (Photos by Thomas Salgado Jr.)

Jordyn Lilly, Hannah Rogers and Morgan Wallace weren’t going to let Bishop Diego’s girls basketball team lose in their final home game before a capacity crowd at the Brick House.

The three seniors came up with big plays down the stretch, leading the Cardinals to a 46-38 win over Bakersfield Christian in the first round of the CIF Division 5 State Tournament on Wednesday night.

Bakersfield Christian cut a 15-point Bishop Diego  lead to three with 2:28 to play and had the momentum. But Rogers blocked a shot and made a free throw after being fouled on an offensive rebound. Then Lilly made a big defensive play. She knocked away an inbound pass, hustled to get the ball and drove in for a layup. Morgan then stole the ball and Lilly got to the free-throw line and made both free throws to seal the program’s first state tournament victory.

Hannah Rogers scores two of her 12 points for the Cardinals.

Hannah Rogers scores two of her 12 points for the Cardinals.

Lilly scored 23 points and had four steals to pace the CIF-Southern Section Division 5A champions. Rogers recorded  a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds and had three blocked shots. Wallace score four points, but her three steals were huge in the win.

Defensively, the kids just stepped up, especially at the very end. Morgan and Jordyn’s steals were just huge,” Bishop coach Jeff Burich said.

“That was kind of lucky pick there,” Lilly said of her key steal. “I didn’t know if I was going to get it or not. Thankfully, I did. I felt her slow down a bit, so I said: ‘I’m just going to go for it.’ I did and worked out.”

Said Burich of the play:  “That’s just Jordyn. She just plays so hard. I can’t say enough good things about her. She was going to make that play no matter what.”

Olivia Espinosa, who sparked Bakersfield Christian’s comeback with a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, led the Central Section Division 5 runners-up, with 16 points.

Bishop Diego advances to a second-round match-up against second-seeded The Bishops School in La Jolla on Saturday. The Bishops, which routed L.A. Price, 79-30, on Wednesday, is led by sophomore Destiny Littleton, one of the leading scorers in the state with 34-point average.

Espinosa, who came into the game with 66 3-pointers, buried one to give Bakersfield Christian a 3-2 lead. Bishop Diego responded with 13-0 run. Siena Gonzalez scored on offensive rebound, Summer Soto hit a three from her favorite spot in the corner, Rogers scored twice on the inside and Lilly hit a couple of pull-up shots.

The Cardinals continued to control the game in the second quarter, with Lilly scoring eight points. They led 28-19 at halftime.

Baskets by Rogers, Wallace and Lilly expanded Bishop’s lead to 34-19 early in the third quarter.

Bakersfield Christian brought in a taller Ashley Gomez  and the game became more physical in the paint. Bodies seemed to be on the floor in every battle for a rebound.

Bishop's Jordyn Lilly pulls up for a jumper against Bakersfield Christian's Kameron Taylor. Lilly scored a game-high 23 points.

Bishop’s Jordyn Lilly pulls up for a jumper against Bakersfield Christian’s Melis Kunieda. Lilly scored a game-high 23 points.

“The farther we go now we’re definitely going to play more physical teams, and I think this was definitely a challenge for us,” said Lilly.

“I didn’t think they’d be that physical,” Burich said. “They were basically an outside shooting team. They adjusted defensively and packed it in on (Rogers). We didn’t do a very good job passing-wise; we hurried some things, we weren’t patient enough. But the kids stepped up when they had to.”

Espinosa hit a 3-pointer and followed with a layup after a tie-up on a rebound, cutting Bishop’s lead to 39-31. A Cardinals’ turnover resulted in another Espinosa trey, making it a five-point game, 39-34. She got another 3-point look after  turnover but the shot didn’t fall.

At the other end, Lilly drove the lane, got fouled and made two big free throws for Bishop for a 41-34 lead.

Gomez used her size advantage to score on a putback and off a blocked shot by Rogers to make it a three-point game, 41-38, with 3:37 to go.

Bishop held the Eagles scoreless the rest of the way.

“We’ve had these games in the Tri-Valley League,” Burich said of close finishes. “We had one-point losses to St. Bonaventure, overtime games against Santa Clara, so this wasn’t really anything new to these guys to have this kind of situation. They didn’t panic. The nice thing was the defense is what turned it around for us. It wasn’t like we kept scoring to get away. We got some good defensive stops and I think that helps out.”

When the final buzzer sounded, members of Bishop’s football team and other students rushed the team and knocked them over.

There were nothing but smiles and laughs as the kids celebrated on the floor.

“It was an awesome feeling, especially having all our classmates out here, just seeing all the support we have at the school,” Lilly said of the packed house. “Bishop is definitely a community and a family,  so having our family out here tonight was really special for our last home game.”

 

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