“We ran it before a few times and we hadn’t really got it down,” Switzer said. “The passes were too long or too short or I didn’t get it right. But this time we were like, ‘We’re gonna get it.’ And when it all shifted, I was thinking, ‘This is gonna be good.’ And I jumped, and it was amazing.”
Evans lofted a pass toward the basket and hit Switzer perfectly in mid-jump. The senior grabbed the rock, quickly adjusted her body and laid it off the glass for two, garnering a roaring ovation.
“That’s a play Kelsey and Jessie … We come into practice and they’re warming up, and they’re running the alley-oop,” Davis said. “They’ve been running it together forever. So I drew up a play earlier this year and we’ve practiced it and run it at certain times. But we’ve only ran it about four times, a couple of times the pass wasn’t there, or we got fouled. This is the first time it worked right.
“And Kelsey is athletic enough to catch it in the air and shoot it, and there’s not too many girls out there that can elevate, catch and shoot. They were pretty excited about it.”
“It would’ve been really cool if I could dunk,” Switzer said.
The Bullfrogs led the Tigers 13-6 at that point and went on to build a 23-13 halftime lead. Switzer led Bret Harte with nine points, including the game’s first two, where she made a block, grabbed the rebound and drove the court length for a layup.
Sami Seider added six points and eight rebounds for Bret Harte in the first eight minutes and grabbed a game-high 14 boards in all.
The 10-point lead quickly evaporated in the third period where it took the Bullfrogs almost six minutes to score. In that span, the Tigers cut the lead to one. But Switzer, who scored a team-high 14 points, made a driving layup and Amanda Chaney converted an offensive rebound and Bret Harte went into the final period clinging to a 27-25 lead.
“I think we played really well in the first half, but we were kind of sluggish in the third,” Switzer said. “But we managed to bring it back in the fourth. We couldn’t get a hold of No. 24, but we tried as best we could and pushed hard until the end.”
That No. 24 was Jacqui Arretche.
The Los Banos star almost single-handedly brought back the Tigers. Arretche scored three in the first half and then 20 out 22 team points in the second half. Her second 3-pointer of the game with 6:48 left gave the Tigers their only lead of the night, 28-27.
Seven seconds later, Switzer made a determined drive down the lane and got fouled and made one of two free throws to tie the game.
And then it was Jessie Evans’ show.
A fan in the stands held a sign saying, “Evans was sent from the Heavens.” And her offense, especially her free throwing shooting, was a blessing for the Bullfrogs.
Evans scored 12 points in the final six minutes, including 9 of 10 from the charity stripe. The senior hit two freebies to give the Frogs a lead, 30-28, they would never relinquish.
After the Frogs grabbed back the lead, they pressed. And it worked.
Two straight turnovers resulted in layups for Switzer and Sam Crabtree for a 34-28 lead.
With 1:59 left, Los Banos had cut the lead to five, 40-35, and had the ball after a timeout. When the Tigers returned to the floor, there were six in crimson compared to five in purple which resulted in a technical foul.
Evans converted one of two free throws and the Bullfrogs also got possession. A full shot clock later, Evans sent the dagger into the Tigers with a 3-point bomb giving Bret Harte a 44-35 lead with under a minute left.
“It was really big,” Switzer said of Evans in the fourth quarter. “It’s all we do in practices is shoot free throws, all the time. They were really big and I was proud of her for making them.”
“I’m impressed we were able to get our first playoff win for Bret Harte basketball in quite awhile,” Davis said. “With that said, I don’t feel we played our best game. But we were still able to do what we had to do to get this done. I thought Los Banos played a really good game. We didn’t shoot the ball well from the perimeter tonight. Generally we shoot the ball around on average 28-33 percent pretty consistently and I don’t think we were anywhere near that tonight. It was pretty bad. Which is the identity of our team, when something’s not working, keep digging it out and someone else steps up and somebody else gets it done. Jessie Evans got it done tonight from the line. We got it done in the last 3:30 with our press. We gave them fits.”
The Bullfrogs hit the road Thursday to take on No. 3 Colfax who defeated Encina 59-39.
“They took our seeding spot, so we’re gonna get that back,” Switzer said, referring to Bret Harte’s No. 6 seed for a team with a 24-4 record.
“I think we have momentum,” Davis said. “I think now that they got a win, we don’t have the playoff ‘frights’ like we did last year. We’re a way better than what we were tonight. Now we go to Colfax and Colfax is really good. Our girls feel they have our spot and I told them basically, ‘We gotta go up there and get our spot.’ ”