Two years ago, California City High School was 6-19. Corcoran High had a similar record.
Friday night, the resurrected programs met in the championship game of the Central Section boys Division V.
In the end, it was the defending Division V champion California City that used its quickness and nine three-point shots from Cameron Jarmon (5 of 9) and Madetoneyo Mays (4 of 11) to ease to a 77-68 win over Corcoran.
The Ravens, who came in averaging 91.2 points a game, found themselves in a defensive mode when Corcoran head coach Jerod Uldall had his team employ a zone defense.
That worked as Corcoran raced out to a 21-18 first-quarter lead and went into the locker room with a 36-31 halftime advantage.
However, California City, now 26-6, responded with a 22-14 run in the third quarter to take a lead into the final quarter at Selland Arena.
“We’ve never seen these guys before,” said Ravens coach Ronald Fleming. “They came in and played really, really good defense.”
Fleming said his team decided to “play 94 feet of defense” in the second half.
“We went back to our game,” he said.
Fleming basked in a second consecutive section title, especially after arriving in the Kern County desert community from Mt. Vernon, New York where state championships were plentiful.
“I’m used to winning,” he said. “It’s thrilling to see us rise from the ashes.”
Uldall saw his team’s fortunes rise when senior guard Roy Salinas return this year from a broken foot.
A zone defense that dared California City to launch long-distance three-point attempts paid off.
“We were willing to let them shoot 3s,” said Uldall. “We used stats. Those are low-percentage shots.”
California City ended shooting 9 of 36 from the three-point range.
Salinas scored a team-leading 23 points and added seven rebounds and five assists. However, he felt he could have done more.
“I didn’t get the ball more to the big men,” he said.
Corcoran, which now has a 20-10 record, had 20 turnovers. Three of them happened during a key stretch in the third quarter that allowed California City to convert them into points and cement its lead.
“It’s a game of runs,” said Salinas. “I had confidence in my team.”
Uldall praised Salinas as more than a basketball player.
“He’s an awesome kid,” said Uldall. “He’s really coachable, and is the most polite kid.”
California City was led by Jarmon with 24 points and Hubert Johnson with 20 points.