By Fred J. Robledo
It took a moment for Bonita High School senior Madison Zylstra to figure it out, but once she saw her cousin Carly Horine walking on the floor after draining a three-pointer with 4:40 left until half against visiting Walnut, it all registered. Officials called timeout after Zylstra moved ahead of Horine to become the school’s all-time leading scorer, and she didn’t stop there, finishing with a game-high 23 points to lead the CIF-Southern Section Division 3A’s top-ranked Bearcats to a 65-37 victory over the Mustangs. Zylstra’s 1,300 career points moved her ahead of Horine’s 1,284, which she set in 2006.
“I wasn’t expecting anything like this at all,” Zylstra said of the in-game ceremony. “But when I saw my family and Carly, it was great. It was great having my cousin out there with me, and the way we played tonight, I couldn’t of been prouder.”
Zylstra’s averaging a team-leading 17 points on a team that seemingly has everything after the addition of freshman point guard Nikki Wheatley, giving the Bearcats’ two great ballhandlers along with senior Taylor Anderson, heading to Loyola Marymount.(To continue click thread).
Wheatley finished with 12 points, five assists and four steals while Anderson chipped in with 15 points by mostly creating off the dribble and attacking the basket.
With 6-foot-3 junior center Brianna Kennedy altering or blocking nearly every shot in the paint, it’s no wonder the Bearcats are 15-1 and 3-0 in the newly formed Hacienda League.
Walnut, winners of four straight San Antonio League titles and 35 of 36 league games prior to joining the Hacienda, is 11-6 and 1-2 after also losing to Diamond Ranch.
Although the Mustangs jumped to a quick 6-0 lead and received nine points apiece from Julie Robles, Tricia Choy and Amy McDill, they were clearly overmatched by the Bearcats’ size, quickness and Zylstra’s shooting.
“They’re awesome,” Walnut coach Lori Huckler said. “They run the floor better than they have ever run it, their outside shooting is great, they crash the boards, they got it all.”
Then Huckler turned and singled out Wheatley — the quick freshman who has turned the Bearcats into a force in transition to go with their already sournd halfcourt game.
“It’s kind of scary to think about how good she’s going to be when she’s a senior,” Huckler said. “She really makes them go.”
Zylstra, who is hoping her record season turns into a championship one when the playoffs start in a month, also said the addition of Wheatley has made everyone better.
“Nikki creates shots for me, Taylor and Bree in the post,” Zylstra said. “This is a fun team to be on, everyone’s unselfish.”
That’s what made Zylstra’s in-game ceremony so unique and refreshing — she didn’t know it was coming — a surprise that coach Darrin Baumunk had planned quietly.
“She’s (Zylstra) an unselfish player, she wants to win, but we wanted to recognize her too,” Baumunk said. “It was nice the way it all turned out.
“We got off to a slow start, but once we started pushing more and forcing the action we got easy baskets and started extending the lead.
“That’s not always easy against Walnut. Lori Huckler is a great coach and always has her team ready, it was a good win.”