There were plenty of question marks surrounding the Bret Harte High School girls’ basketball team heading into the first game of the season Tuesday night.
Would the Bullfrogs be able to compete with a roster that lacks varsity experience? Would the young freshman players be overwhelmed on the varsity level? Will there be an unknown player who will step up and lead by example on the floor?
While none of those questions were completely answered, there is now a little better picture of what Bret Harte will look like for the remainder of the season. The Bullfrogs put up a strong fight against the much larger Patterson Tigers, but ran out of gas late in the third quarter and lost 51-28 Tuesday night in Angels Camp.
Even though his team lost by 23 points, Bret Harte head coach Mitch Hodson liked aspects of what he saw in the first game of the season.
“For three quarters, we played really good basketball,” Hodson said. “Our offense needed a little work, but our defense looked really good. We held Patterson to 35 points in three quarters and I told them that if we could hold them to 40 points, that we’d be in this game all the way to the end, but we just couldn't. We lost focus and lost it in the fourth.”
Offensively, Bret Harte was led by freshman Aariah Fox, who was playing in her first ever high school game. Coming off the bench, Fox led Bret Harte in points and rebounds, scoring eight and pulling down 10 boards. She also collected four steals and dished out two assists.
It was Fox who gave Bret Harte its first point of the night with a free throw. The Bullfrogs trailed Patterson 7-1 with 2:32 to play in the opening period when junior Kalah Casey knocked down a jumper with an assist from junior Haylee Maddeaux. Fox followed with a field goal, which cut the Tiger lead to 7-6. After two baskets from Patterson, Fox scored on a layup to put the Bullfrogs within three points. The first quarter ended with Patterson leading 13-8.
A minute into the second quarter, Bret Harte sophomore Jaycee Davey drained a 3-point basket from the top of the key with an assist from senior Tianna Bennett. Following the Davey shot from downtown, Patterson scored five unanswered points to extend its lead to 18-11. Trailing by seven, Bret Harte junior Mikenna Grotto started to get hot.
Grotto hit back-to-back jumpers and scored following a rebound to lead Bret Harte on a 6-2 run, which cut Patterson’s lead to 20-17 with 3:20 to play in the first half.
“She plays so well on the move and we like that about her,” Hodson said about Grotto. “We want to keep her moving and getting shots up, especially around the basket. She also does a good job of following her shots, so she’ll get a lot of rebounds.”
Junior Bullfrog Shayna Wakefield hit a deep 2-point basket in the final minutes of the second quarter, but Patterson ended the half on a 9-2 run and led 29-19 heading into the second half.
Bret Harte stayed within striking distance in the third quarter with baskets from Casey and Cierra Gilbert. However, with time winding down in the third, the game was stopped because of an injured referee. One of the two referees hit the floor hard and appeared to seriously injure his hip. Medical personnel were called and eventually, the referee was taken out of the gym by EMTs and transported to a local medical facility.
The stoppage didn’t help the Bullfrogs in their quest to fight back from the deficit they were in.
“It’s a good chance to sit down and talk about what we need to do a better job of out on the floor,” Hodson said about the break in the action. “The break that we had tonight was especially long and I think it was hard to stay focused throughout the whole thing.”
The Bullfrogs ended the third quarter down 35-23. The final eight minutes got away from Bret Harte, as Patterson outscored the Bullfrogs 16-5.
Grotto finished the night with six points, seven rebounds and three steals; Davey had six points and two boards; Jaden Arias had eight rebounds, Kyla Kirk had two assists; Casey had four points, one rebound and one assist; and Gilbert had three boards, two points, one assist and one steal in the loss.
Bret Harte (0-1) returns to the floor Saturday to take on Sierra in Manteca. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.
Bret Harte’s JV team started the season with a 31-25 win over Patterson. Sophomore Ally Stoy scored a team-high 10 points, followed by Ashlin Arias with nine, Brayley Blodgett with five, Mackenzie Carrol with three and Morgan Greene and CJ DesBoullions each added two points.
Bret Harte’s freshman squad picked up a big 49-11 home victory over Patterson Tuesday night. Leading the way in scoring was Melana Wakefield with 13 points, followed by Alissa Sutton with 12, Breya Nobles with 10, Makenna Robertson with six, while Trinity Kekai-Acedo and Sydney Hutchinson each added four points in the win.