Rancho Bernardo and Kearny have had dominant girls basketball programs in the past. But they were in different divisions based on enrollment.
Since both programs have struggled at times the last five years, they squared off Tuesday night at Kearny in a San Diego Section Division III first-round playoff game.
The No. 9 Broncos prevailed 43-38 in a contest that was close and exciting if not particularly polished.
Then again, that’s the idea with the new playoff system — tight games among teams that might not have even qualified in recent years.
“It fits us very well,” RB coach Kai Harris said of his team that came in having lost four straight Palomar League games and with the win is still just above .500 at 12-11. “It’s competitive playing against teams like Kearny that matched our style of play.”
The No. 8 Komets (16-10) led until early in the fourth quarter, but Kearny hit just one field goal in the final eight minutes while the Broncos’ Kathy Rudkin buried back-to-back 3-pointers to give her team the momentum.
She finished with five long-range bombs and a game-high 18 points.
Down the stretch, Cassy Cunningham owned the boards (12 rebounds) for RB and the Broncos managed to blank Kearny’s Brianna Smith, who scored 17 points through the first three quarters.
“We used a 2-3 zone and I think we surprised them, denying them the drive to the basket,” said Harris.
With the new format that is supposed to give any team a chance to win a division title, there is no reason to believe the Broncos can’t at least contend.
Said Harris: “Our goal has been to make the playoffs and win the final four games.”