Village News Reporter
Bonsall High School’s boys basketball team hosted their Warner High School counterparts Nov. 28 and turned a close game in the first half into a 48-30 Bonsall victory.
The Legionnaires evened their season record to 2-2 with the win. “We learned the value of hard work,” said Bonsall coach Bernard Cantrell.
During the 2018-19 season Cantrell coached Bonsall’s girls to a 7-6 record, including a 7-1 mark in Pioneer League play which shared first place in the standings (Horizon Prep was 14-4 in the regular season and was the designated league champion for automatic playoff game purposes).
Bonsall did not have girls basketball for the ensuing four seasons. Cantrell, who is a Bonsall Unified School District classified employee, returned to coaching with the 2023-24 boys team.
Chuck Colletti was Bonsall’s coach in 2020-21 when the Legionnaires won the only league championship in the program’s history. Colletti stepped down after the 2021-22 season. John Machado was Bonsall’s coach for 2022-23 when the Legionnaires were 3-19 overall and 0-10 in Patriot League games.
Cantrell noted that as the third coach in three years, he needed to gain the trust of the Bonsall players. “It took us a while,” he said.
This year’s team has 17 boys, although Cantrell only dresses 12 for each game. Four of those players – senior Brayden Duke, senior Nathan Winebrenner, junior Ryan Skaine, and junior Phoenix Young – were on the 2021-22 team which finished 1-7 in Patriot League play and 6-14 overall. Those four are among the eight returning players from the 2022-23 squad.
“They’re used to having things start to go wrong,” Cantrell said.
Bonsall’s 2023-24 season began Nov. 14 with a 57-40 home loss to Guajome Park Academy. The Legionnaires had a 19-17 lead after the first period although the Frogs overcame that deficit for a 30-26 halftime lead and the outscored Bonsall by a 15-6 margin in the third period. Bonsall freshman Kaimana Levy scored 18 points in his first high school game.
A Nov. 16 home game against San Diego Academy, which is actually in National City, ended as a 59-32 Legionnaires win. Bonsall’s first road game of the season Nov. 17 at Coastal Academy had a 57-33 result in the Stingrays’ favor.
Warner won the 2021-22 Manzanita League championship while placing second in the final 2022-23 league standings. Only one player from the Wildcats’ league championship season faced Bonsall last month. The Wildcats took a 2-4 season record into their game against the Legionnaires.
Five of Warner’s players scored against Bonsall while seven Wildcats obtained at least one rebound. Cantrell credits the Warner rebounds for the Wildcats’ leads early in the game. “They got every single loose ball in the first half,” Cantrell said. “They got extra opportunities.”
The lead changed numerous times in the first quarter, and Warner had a 13-12 advantage at the end of that period. The game had a 21-21 score during the second quarter before Bonsall scored the final four points in the first half and all nine points in the third period.
“It took us a while,” Cantrell said.
“We just played collectively. We played hard,” Cantrell said.
Winebrenner had 18 points against the Wildcats and Levy provided 16 points.
“I think this trajectory we’re headed on we can have one of the better years in Bonsall basketball history,” Cantrell said.