The 46th annual Bonita Vista Baron-Bonita Optimist Holiday Classic concluded Dec. 31 at Bonita Vista High School with six participating teams. Though the field might have been somewhat compressed compared to previous years, that didn’t mean the competition was necessarily watered down.

The championship game between tourney host Bonita Vista and Phoenix (Ariz.) Alhambra proved to be an exciting match-up, with the Lady Lions holding off the Lady Barons 55-52.

Bonita Vista, with its runner-up tourney place-finish, improved to 8-2 on the season. Alhambra took an 11-4 record back to Arizona.

BVHS head coach Wayne Wooten sees good things for his team the rest of the 2015-16 season.

“We have good team speed, we’re a good passing team,” he explained following his team’s 3-1 tournament showing. “We play an up-tempo game, especially on the defensive side.”

The lone loss the Lady Barons encountered prior to start of the tournament was 66-56 at La Costa Canyon on Dec. 8.
“La Costa Canyon is traditionally a top 10 team in our section, so we’re real happy with that result,” Wooten explained. “Even though we lost that game, it was a plus for us.”

The fast start has resulted in Bonita Vista earning a No. 10 ranking among section teams.

Top returners this season include senior shooting guards Carol Schroeder and Brooklyn Valdez, and sophomore shooting guard Shyla LaTone.

“All can also play guard, so they can play two positions,” Wooten said.

Senior post player Daeshya Battle is the team’s impact newcomer.

Bonita Vista tipped off tournament play with a 59-55 win over San Diego. The Lady Barons then sprinted past Southwest El Centro, 58-28, to start tourney play 2-0.

Schroeder led Bonita Vista with 23 points while LaTone contributed 15 points and Valdez dropped in 10 points in the win over San Diego. LaTone and Valdez each sank a pair of three-pointers.

LaTone poured in 14 points in the win over Southwest El Centro while Schroeder finished with 10 points.

The Lady Barons bounded past Chula Vista, 61-17, to improve to 3-0 in tournament play. LaTone (17 points), Schroeder (16 points) and Valdez (12 points) paced the winners in scoring.

In the championship game, Bonita Vista trailed 18-9 after the first quarter and 34-18 at halftime. The second half, however, proved to be a showcase for the Lady Barons as they out-scored the Arizonans 34-22.

Bonita Vista trailed 54-41 with 44 seconds left before the hosts went on an 11-1 spurt to end the game. Schroeder dropped in a three-pointer with one second left before the clock ran out on the Lady Barons’ torrid comeback.

LaTone, an all-tourney pick, led the Lady Barons with 21 points in the championship game while Schroeder chipped in with 18 points and 12 rebounds. LaTone sank three three-pointers to boost the Bonita Vista comeback.

As good as the team’s start has been, Wooten said his squad will need to improve on its free-throw shooting and rebounding to achieve all its goals this season.

Both areas stood out in the championship game loss to Alhambra.

“We didn’t rebound,” Wooten said. “That’s the key for us to win. That showed our weakness. We’ve got to get better.
“If we can improve on free-throw shooting and rebounding, it will help our offense. We’d like to average 60 points per game.”

Wooten said the road to the Metro-Mesa League championship continues to go through Eastlake (ranked ninth in the section) and Mater Dei Catholic high schools. But he said his team should be counted among the contenders for the San Diego Section Division II championship.

“We have a good chance to go to CIF,” Wooten said. “I think we have a chance to go far this year.” – See more at: