Bakersfield Christian pulls away to win by nine

It almost seemed fitting that in the first league game of the season and in front of a good sized crowd, the Taft varsity boys basketball team found themselves in a battle.

Yet, when the dust had settled it was the Bakersfield Christian Eagles that were able to breathe a sigh of relief after pulling away in the final seconds to defeat the Wildcats 57-49 in Taft.

“We played pretty well,” said Taft coach Corey Furman. “Too many unforced errors.”

With the loss, Taft falls to 4-10 overall and 0-1 in the South Sequoia League while the Eagles improved to 5-9 overall and 1-0 in league play.

It looked as if the Wildcats were going to run away with the game at the start of the game when they raced out to a 7-0 advantage highlighted by Zack Tuaila’s three pointer and Fano Maui’s pass to Tuaila for a layup in the opening 1:33 of the game.

After the teams traded free throws, Bakersfield Christian turned the tables when they erupted for 18 unanswered points in a span of 3:33 highlighted by Noah Taylor’s three pointer, Jeremiah Foster’s three point play.

Taft finally ended their scoring drought with 59 seconds remaining in the first quarter when Cameron Ginn scored a field goal

The Wildcats cut into the lead again 26 seconds into the second quarter when Tuaila stole the ball and scored on a one handed layup. However, the Eagles countered with a 7-2 run including Foster’s three point play to up the advantage to 25-14.

Taft ended the run when Dylan Self sank a three-pointer with 5:02 remaining. Bakersfield Christian followed up with three more points before Taft made a charge by reeling off six straight points to whittle the lead down to five with 1:23 to go.

After the teams traded free throws, Cameron Ginn scored on a putback to narrow the Eagles lead to three. Bakersfield Christian responded with a 4-0 run capped by Ben Yurosek’s three point play to up the Eagles to lead seven at the halftime break.

Taft cut the lead again at the start of the third quarter when Ginn hit a jumper 1:02 into the third quarter.

The Eagles answered with three straight points but the teams would go on to trade points before Taft came alive again with back to back three pointers from Self and Maui to cut the lead down to one. #24 followed up with a free throw with 29 seconds left in the quarter to even the score at 39.

While Taft tied the score, it was the Eagles that had the final say with a free throw with 21 seconds left to take the lead into the fourth quarter.

The Eagles attempted to pull away at the start of the fourth quarter with a 6-2 run. Taft bounced back with Tuaila’s three pointer to cut the lead down to two at 46-44.

Taft threatened to pull away again with a 7-0 run highlighted by Talnenetz’s three point play to lead 53-44. The Wildcats made one final charge with five unanswered points with four of them coming from Talnenetz.

However, Bakersfield Christian sealed up the victory by scoring the final four points on free throws to win the game.

Even though they lost, Furman believes this will help the team

“It’s going to make us better for the long run,” he said.

Taft will hit the road Friday when they travel to Arvin. The game begins at 6:30 p.m.