The Richland Junior High girls basketball teams completed their seasons with first place finishes in their leagues, both teams going a combined 42-1. The 7th grade team, coached by Angel Acosta and his staff, went 18-0, including a first place finish in a tournament in McFarland. The 7th grade team consisted of Evie Acosta, Amaya Escalera, Desteny Flores, Baiya Hanner, Kiara Medina, Natalie Navarro and Jordan Perez.
The 8th grade team had only one loss on the season, going 24-1, with a first place in league, and three championship trophies in tournaments throughout the season. The squad won tournaments in Lost Hills, McFarland and Rio Bravo-Greeley. Two players, Aliyah Escalera and Aleah Barajas, received All-Tourney awards. The team finished the season with a fifth place in the season-ending Kern County Championships. Members of the 8th grade team are Julissa Acosta, Aleah Barajas, Aliyah Escalera, Genesis Escalera, Elizabeth Flores, Lissbet Flores, Priscilla Gurrola, Ellie Jimenez, Allison Jimenez and Alexia Martinez.
Head Coach Angel Acosta said that this season has been amazing. "I've never been part of a season where both JV and varsity combined had only one loss. For both teams to play in 43 games and come away with just one loss, is amazing and very impressive." Acosta was a little hesitant at the beginning of the season, facing the challenge of coaching both teams simultaneously, but all doubts were wiped away when he saw what a special group of girls that he was dealing with. "Each player came to practice ready to work, came with the right mindset and willing to work hard. Each of these players are what I would describe as a coach's dream, all players were coachable."
Acosta said that he believes both JV and varsity girls represented Richland with the utmost respect. "The administration, sports coordinator, teachers and RJH staff can be very proud of our young Lady Trojans."
At the end of the season, Aliyah Escalera was chosen to participate in the Trust the Process All-Star game. In the skills event, Escalera put on a show, placing first place in the 3-point contest, easily outdistancing the competition, with 25 points. The tournament was an opportunity for the players to showcase their talents. Shafter High Coach Shawn Pennell commented that he is excited to be getting some special players, including Escalera, who he said could probably start on the varsity team as a freshman.
This season is one that Acosta and his staff will never forget. "Nothing made me prouder of these young ladies to receive so many compliments from their peers, as well as coaches, whom one of them stated that our 8th grade team could beat a high school frosh soph team, in her opinion."