No one said the road through the playoffs was going to be easy.
The No.3 seeded Taft varsity girls basketball team will find that out again Tuesday night when they square off against the No.2 seeded Mendota Aztecs in the semi final round of the CIF-CS Division IV playoffs in Mendota.
This will be the first time a Taft High basketball team has competed in the semi final round of the playoffs since the varsity boys reached that round in 2010 when they lost to eventual champion Sierra in Tollhouse.
Taft (19-9 overall) will be taking on a Mendota team that went 20-3 overall and 10-0 in the West Sierra League. The only times the Lady Aztecs lost this season was their first game by a score of 31-26 to Los Banos. Their second loss was to Buhach Colony 73-47 with their final loss coming to Madera 53-34.
In all three cases the teams that Mendota lost to made the playoffs with Los Banos and Buhach Colony qualifying for the CIF San Joaquin Section playoffs at the Division II and IV levels.
Meanwhile, Madera qualified in the CIF-Central Section Division II playoffs before losing in the quarterfinal round.
By playing in the West Sierra League, Mendota and Taft had a common opponent in the the Coalinga Horned Toads. In their lone matchup with them the Lady Wildcats defeated Coalinga 42-22.
The road through the playoffs so far has not been an easy one for Taft. They edged out Strathmore 34-32 last Tuesday before pulling away in the second half to defeat McFarland 53-34.
Meanwhile, Mendota breezed through the playoffs with a 62-18 victory over No.15 seed Orange Cove in the first round before defeating No.7 Riverdale 53-31 this past Thursday.
Even though this will be unchartered territory for the players it will not be for Taft head coach Chuck Hagstrom, who has been through this before.
"I've been down this road," he said. "I think that helps them a lot. We just got to do what we got to do. We'll be okay."