Eagles teams’ historic basketball seasons come to an end

TEMECULA — If Barefield wasn’t already a household name in the area for basketball, it surely is after the last week of games played by both the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams at Rancho Christian School.

The boys’ team, who won their first round SoCal Regional Division 1 CIF State game Tuesday, Feb. 28, is headed by a Barefield, and the girls’ team was led through their first round of the SoCal Regional Division 2 CIF State tournament that same night, by a Barefield as well.

Tia Barefield, pictured here against Bonita Vista in the semifinals, scored 21 points two days earlier for Rancho Christian, drilling seven 3-pointers in the first round of the SoCal Regional Division 2 CIF State tournament Thursday, March 2. Valley News/Time Stood Still Photography

Let’s start with the latter. With both teams playing at home, in opening round action, Tia Barefield, daughter of Coach Ray, showed off her downtown skills late in the game, which kicked the Lady Eagles into gear after struggling on offense early in their matchup against Crenshaw High School (20-8).

No. 4 seeded Rancho Christian (26-6) only led 25-20 at halftime, made 8 of 29 shots and had zero 3-pointers. They also had to deal with early foul trouble to two of their top players, Aaliyah Stanton and Jada Tiggett. It would be Shaylynn De Yager who would help carry the offense while Stanton and Tiggett battled through their foul troubles.

De Yager scored 12 of her 19 points before halftime and finished the evening with 19 points. It was halfway through the third quarter, though, that Barefield would take matters into her own hands when she told the media that she wanted to get up as many good shots as she could.

“My confidence grew with every shot I made,” Barefield, who scored all 21 of her points in the second half, said.

Before Barefield sank the game’s first 3-pointer with 5:33 in the third quarter, both were collectively 0 for 19 from downtown. Barefield sank four more long-range shots during the final three minutes of third period as the Eagles extended the lead to 54-32. She would drain six consecutive 3-pointers at one point, going from the third to fourth quarter and made a seventh later in the quarter to help the Eagles secure a 75-52 win.

Stanton would come back and score 13 of her 19 points after halftime. Tiggett had seven points and a game-high 17 rebounds. She also had four blocked shots in the first quarter of the game.

The Rancho Christian girls’ team would score 50 points in the second half, helping them advance their cause as they hosted and beat No. 5-seeded Hart (29-4) in a second-round game Thursday, March 2. That 74-65 win got the Lady Eagles to the semifinal game, where they would travel to take on Bonita Vista in a thriller that literally came down to the final seconds. Unfortunately, the outcome would not go Rancho Christians way as their historic season came to an end with a 70-69 loss. But, with a league title, and CIF Southern Section championship under their belt, that isn’t a bad way to go out

Senior guard Kollen Murphy scored a team-high 28 points against Carlsbad in first round action of the SoCal Regional Division 1 CIF State playoffs Tuesday, Feb. 28. Valley News/Time Stood Still Photography

The Rancho Christian’s boys’ team was firing on all cylinders out of the gate in their 89-72 victory over Carlsbad in first-round action of their Division 1 CIF State SoCal regional opener. The Eagles made 10 of 13 shots in the opening quarter and went on a 20-5 run to jump out to a double-digit lead, and never looked back. Senior guard Kollen Murphy was on fire for Rancho Christian (24-10), scoring a team-high 28 points, making 10 of his 12 shots from the floor.

Carlsbad (24-7) put up a fight though, collectively they made ten 3-pointers in the game as Jake Hall dropped 31 points for the Lancers, getting the visiting team within six points midway through the third quarter.

Rancho Christian had five players score in double digits for the win, which included Murphy, as well Kevin Patton Jr., who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, Rodney Brown (13 points and 10 rebounds), Bailey Chambers (13 points) and Martin Gumwel, who added 12 points.

Rancho Christian, the No. 7 seed in the Division 1 regional, then traveled to face the No. 2-seeded Bishop Montgomery Knights (27-4) on Thursday, March 2. The Knights defeated No. 15 seeded Torrey Pines 81-53 in their first-round matchup.

The championship quest for the Eagles, who not only won an Ivy League title, but also a CIF-SS Division 2A title this past season, ended at the hands of the second-seeded Knights. Bishop Montgomery held off the No. 7 seed Rancho Christian Eagles 68-60 in their second-round matchup of the CIF SoCal Regional Division 1 playoffs. The Eagles would get within seven points with 2:56 left in the game, but the Knights pushed their lead to 62-50 on a Christian Jones dunk and two free throws by Kelcy Phipps, which all but took the wind out the room.

Rancho Christian did make a late rally, but Bishop Montgomery put the game away with their impeccable free throw shooting. Kevin Patton Jr. led Rancho Christian with 27 points in their final game of the season.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.

JP Raineri
JP Raineri

JP is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and head of the Sports Department for the Valley News. Over his time in the Temecula Valley, JP, a former Southwestern League head baseball coach, was also an on-air radio personality at Q103.3, KATY 101.3, Hot 103.9, and was a television host for the Outdoor Channel. When not covering local, or national sports, JP also serves as an Associate Baseball Scout with NSR.