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The Sisterhood: History Is Made Again by Lady Mustangs

Four girl basketball players
LUCERNE VALLEY, Thursday, February 2 — Unlike last season when the Lucerne Valley High School varsity girls basketball team had a tall, dominant center in Elisa Otwell, the 2022-23 team lacks height but more than makes up for it in its smothering defense, never-say-die attitude and the team’s key to success: the players’ strong sense of family.
The sisterhood proved so powerful that they broke new ground this season. Outside of tournament play, the Lucerne Valley girls have a win-loss record of 16-1, and on Wednesday, February 1st the Lady Mustangs traveled to Silver Lakes and easily handled their perennial rival, the Academy of Careers and Exploration, 61-21. The victory, which saw the bench get ample play, established a new school record with 20 wins for the season. The team is 7-0 in the Agape League and 20-6 overall.
“Ever since I coached here it’s been one two, one two, one two,” Head Coach Brandon Barkley said. “ACE would get a victory, then we’d get the next one.”
The girls look to wrap up league play undefeated as they travel to San Bernardino to take on PAL Academy on Thursday. Then the team will take a boat to Catalina to face Avalon to end their regular season. Afterward, they will wait for the C.I.F. playoff schedule to be announced.


So what’s the difference between this team and others?
“It’s defense and our team chemistry,” said Barkley, who earlier in the season passed another milestone, his 100th career win as coach of the Lady Mustangs.
One of the keys, especially this season, is that none of the athletes is selfish on the court. They pass the ball,” he said. “The more they share the ball the more the team develops.”
“This is the best team chemistry I’ve ever seen,” added Assistant Coach Charles Ledbetter, who also heads the Middle School’s physical education program. “Their closeness translates to the floor. We’re a really good team.”
And their work ethic is impressive. During a web reporter’s recent visit, he asked why the coach wasn’t telling the girls what to do during their lengthy and highly involved warmup drills. “They warm up on their own,” Barkley said. “They switch drills on their own. They know what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Coach Barkley knew this was going to be a good team, but their speedy development surprised him and Coach Ledbetter and Assistant Coach Ashley Davalos, a LVHS graduate who played on previous Lady Mustangs teams. 
“I commend the young girls,” Coach Ledbetter said. “They really buy into the system.”


Senior guard/forward Captain Kailey Quintero says the girls are propelled by continuing to make history. They want to see the 2022-23 team League Championship banner hanging in the gym.
“We want to that up there so bad,” she said prior to facing ACE.
When she’s having an otherwise bad day, Kailey says she can count on basketball practice to lift up her spirits. She may have thought Coach Barkley was tough, but now she understands his motivation: “He just has standards. He sees potential in everyone. He pushes. He knows you can do it.”
Kailey, a three-sport athlete (basketball, volleyball and softball) is planning on pursuing nursing at Victor Valley College and then leaving the area to follow her dreams.
Senior captain guard Jewel Moy, who as a junior new to Lucerne Valley in 2021was named the Agape League’s MVP, has learned to trust her teammates. The proof is in the pudding, and this season has been incredibly rewarding.
“This is like a family,” Jewell says. “As players we come together. We have each others’ backs.”
She’s also very glad for the move to Lucerne Valley. Besides enjoying new friends and success on the court, her family is enjoy the change. Her uncle has built a fire pit in the back yard and the family gathers around to roast marshmallows and spend time together.
“It’s turned out great,” she says.
The change in mindset has provided an opportunity for the star player to concentrate on the details of her playing, specifically working on dribbling and occasionally shooting with her left hand. Ever since 5th grade, Jewel “was big on basketball,” and so after college she wants to realize her long-held dream: play for the WNBA.
The Jewel Moy story continues….
Sophomore forward/center Chloe Evans agrees that teamwork “is really, really important.” She also is grateful for her family members who regularly attend her games as her mother Mrs. Kimberly Evans teaches the school’s culinary arts program. Her father and siblings also regularly show their enthusiasm on the sidelines.
“That means a lot to me.”
Chloe’s favorite subject is history (she is in Mr. Wortham’s history class) and wants to become “a lawyer, a teacher or a therapist.”
Freshman guard Amaya Kelly, who also excels at volleyball, has found a home on the Lady Mustangs team. “I’ve got a bunch of new friends. It’s really cool.” She agrees that “Barkley” teaches more than just basketball. He passes along his general wisdom. “I’ve learned about life, both in an out of school.”
She’s also extremely grateful to learn from Jewel Moy’s basketball play. “Point guard is the hardest job. It all hinges on you. I look up to Jewel.”
Outside of sports, Amaya enjoys science and wants to become a chiropractor.
With four graduating this year (center Lori Weaver and guard/forward Kayla Timmons are also graduating), the Lady Mustangs will have no seniors for 2023-24, and although coach Barkley isn’t completely sure how the season will pan out he is confident that over the next few years the team will again ascend to greatness. The reason? Freshman Amaya Kelly is already one of the top players and she has other classmates and young players who are showing toughness, resolve and that special Lady Mustang ingredient — a strong sense of unity.