Wednesday night Bakersfield v. Bullard was the hottest ticket in town. On the line for the Drillers was a chance to become the first division one school in Kern County to play for a valley championship at Selland Arena since the CIF switched to a single site venue back in 2005.
Despite the home support, Bullard jumped out to an early 12 point lead. "We didn't get down on ourselves," said senior shooting guard Xavier Esquivel. "We knew we were going to come back."
Sure enough the Drillers would mount a charge but it's a little ironic that the player nicknamed "X" was the one who proved to be the X factor. "I told him (Esquivel) last week 'You need to be big this week," head coach Greg Burt said. "He really was."
Esquivel hit 4 three pointers and chipped in defensively with a game high 4 steals. "When he hit about two in a row it's on from there," said senior Jerimiah Dickerson.
While Esquivel's big night helped the Drillers win 78-64, he'd rather talk about something else. "(I) just had to step up," he said after the game. "We all stepped up. We wanted this and it came true."
That team first mindset has been a recipe for success all season long for coach Burt's Drillers. "They're not selfish guys. They don't care who gets the credit as long as we win and when you coach, to get 16-17 year old kids to do that, it's really special," he said.
"This is our senior year and we have nothing left to lose," Dickerson said postgame. Nothing left to lose but, finally for a local D-I school, everything to play for Saturday night.
The Drillers will take on #1 defending champions Central 3/4 with tip off set for 8:00 PM.
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