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COC hoops’ historic first

Wakefield named state’s top player; Herrick, 3 others earn WSC honors

Posted: March 3, 2010 10:20 p.m.
Updated: March 4, 2010 4:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons forward and CCCAA state co-Player of the Year Ashley Wakefield works in the post against Santa Monica College on Jan. 20.

 
Through 18 years and 12 Western State Conference titles, College of the Canyons head women's basketball coach Greg Herrick has churned out some of the state's best players.

Most of them have been point guards.

Add a forward to that list.

COC sophomore Ashley Wakefield, who garnered conference MVP votes as a freshman last season, managed a feat no other Cougar has before her.

The California Community College Athletic Association named her the state's co-Player of the Year, along with Fresno Community College's Sumiya Darden.

Herrick said the pressure of a fast-paced system is part of what has developed some of the best point guards in the region, but Wakefield's talent have put her in a class by herself.

"She's now situated herself in the argument among the greatest players," Herrick said. "I think she finished ninth in scoring all-time (at COC), but she did a lot more than that for us."

Wakefield, whose diverse array of talents were highlighted in a triple-double (15 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists) against Bakersfield College on Jan. 13, consistently led the Cougars (22-5) in several areas over the last two seasons.

During her two years as a starter at COC, the Cougars were also a perfect 24-0 in WSC play.

Wakefield finished her sophomore season averaging 18.6 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.7 steals per contest.

The CCCAA's announcement was preceded by the news of first-team all-conference honors for Wakefield, who also garnered the conference MVP award, and three of her teammates.

Samantha Cross, a sophomore guard who averaged 10.1 points per game and 1.5 assists, sophomore Joslynn Frazier, who averaged 14.8 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, and freshman Kelli Lewis, who averaged 12.2 points per game and led the conference in assists at five per contest, were all named to the all-conference first-team.

Herrick, who was also recognized with his eighth conference coach of the year award, said Wakefield and Frazier both benefited from the others' prolific scoring nature in the post.

"You couldn't scheme for just one player around the basket," Herrick said. "We were fortunate to have both of them at the same time."

Cross' shooting and Lewis' ability to distribute were also listed as big factors in Herrick picking up his eighth perfect season in WSC play.

"By the time we were in mid-conference, (Cross) was hitting three or four (3-pointers) a game," Herrick says. "It allowed Wakefield to operate one-on-one, and that's dangerous.

"(Lewis) had a nice transformation from shooting guard to point guard this year and depending on recruiting, she might go back. She's always had the ability to shoot (3-pointers), but she got better at it as the season went on."

Wakefield recognized the help of her squad first, when asked about the award's meaning.

"It means a lot to me, it's just such an honor," said Wakefield. "For them to recognize how hard this team worked this year means a lot to us."

The list of accolades is the most recent in a list of accomplishments for a team that started its season with doubts, despite returning Wakefield, who Herrick said, "We already knew was the best player in our conference."

The team started off 3-4, then put together a 19-game winning streak - two shy of the school's record according to Herrick - before falling in the first round of the Southern California Regionals of the CCCAA playoffs to Los Angeles Trade Tech College 68-66 on Feb. 27.

Wakefield will receive her award at the CCCWBCA Banquet of Champions on March 10 at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza Hotel in Westlake Village.

She is the sixth Cougar to be named the conference MVP, following Rebekah Cunnan in 1994, Kyetra Brown in 1995, La Cresha Clark in 1997, Zevette Mitchell in 1998, Sha'Tasha Allen in 2000 and Leslie Ortiz in 2006 and 2007.


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