HANFORD — Hanford guard Kate McClard recorded her 18th double-double, Sapphire Jones had 13 points and a freshman duo sparked a resounding 71-46 win over Golden West on Thursday.
McClard scored a game-high 24 points with 11 rebounds, six assists and two steals. It was her sixth consecutive game with a double-double and ninth consecutive game scoring 20 points or more.
“Just going with the flow,” a candid McClard said. “I shot a couple ugly ones, but I got a couple good ones.”
McClard got help from Jones, who aside from her inside scoring, grabbed eight boards, and had three assists and three steals. Jones, a junior, had two points at halftime, but picked it up in the third and ended with 11 second-half points.
Hanford coach Doug Pitkin started Kylie Maya and Tinisha Edwards on Thursday — two freshmen who are clearly going to be big in the coming years for the Bullpups.
The duo got off to a hot start and combined for a 9-0 lead in the first quarter and the run was capped by Maya’s layup after a steal in the half court.
“My shot was actually working out really well for me today,” Maya said.
Golden West answered with a 7-0 run of its own to cut the lead to two, but McClard was right on cue with her first jumper of the night to settle the team down.
She ended the final 1:15 of the quarter with her own 9-0 run, which ended with a straight away 3-pointer with nine seconds left in the first.
The Bullpups led 18-9 and their groove continued into the second.
Hanford opened the second on a 9-0 run before Golden West was able to score a bucket. The Bullpups executed well with the full-court press, something Pitkin said he wanted the girls to be aggressive at before the game.
“I think our execution was pretty good,” Maya said. “We need to cover the middle a little bit better, but we can always work on that.”
At halftime, Hanford led 39-22 and McClard had 18 points. Maya and Edwards combined for 17 points. On their play, Pitkin said it was “inspiring” seeing the two girls work hard and contribute so effectively in West Yosemite League games.
“You see a flash of the future in those two girls,” Pitkin said. “They’re extremely athletic. They play hard.”
McClard said she didn’t understand how valuable Edwards and Maya were when she first met them, but now sees the impact they create.
“We need them,” McClard said. “It really helps because it spreads [the defense] out. When I drive in I’m confident that they can make a shot.”
The Trailblazers started the second half with a couple scores, but Hanford guard Nyomi Solis sparked the team’s defensive intensity with her own play.
“Nyomi Solis played spirited defensive possessions,” Pitkin said. “When she’s in that lineup she goes full speed and it kind of trickles down and we all start going harder. She’s a game changer with her effort.”
Solis even found time to score five points in the third, including knocking down a three.
The Bullpups led 59-31 entering the fourth quarter and were able to rotate everyone in the game.
Hanford and Golden West faced off on Jan. 3 when the Bullpups came away with a narrow 54-51 victory. It was their closest WYL game of the season, but things were different this time around.
“The home-court advantage always helps,” Maya said. “And we’re working together a lot more, more experience with each other.”
With the win, the Bullpups extend their winning streak to 11 games and stay a perfect 8-0 in the WYL. They have not lost since Dec. 23.
During their winning streak, the Bullpups are winning by an average margin of 26.7 points. They currently have a two-game lead over Redwood (12-10, 6-2 WYL) in the WYL with both of their losses coming against the Bullpups.
“We’re really bonding on and off the court,” Maya said. “We’re all working together, we all talk to each other and it’s just really helping out with our execution on the court.”
Wednesday: Hanford (17-7, 8-0 WYL) at El Diamante (7-11, 3-4 WYL) 7:30 p.m.