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COC women’s basketball preview: Pressures from the past

Team has its work cut out to win an eighth straight conference title

Posted: December 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.
College of the Canyons basketball players Delisa Chapman, left, and Casey Scheller are key cogs to the 2012-13 squad. College of the Canyons basketball players Delisa Chapman, left, and Casey Scheller are key cogs to the 2012-13 squad.
College of the Canyons basketball players Delisa Chapman, left, and Casey Scheller are key cogs to the 2012-13 squad.

It’s just a little odd.

One game the College of the Canyons women’s basketball team scores 107 points in a victory and two weeks later it scores 54 in a win.

The patented fast-break offense hadn’t scored under 60 points in a game and won since Jan. 20, 2010.

Another oddity is the roster.

Not one girl played basketball for a Santa Clarita Valley school.

That’s a first in head coach Greg Herrick’s 21 seasons at the helm of the Cougars.

Yet one thing that won’t change is expectations.

Sure, this is a much different Cougars basketball team, but this is a program that is used to winning.

It has won seven straight Western State Conference, South championships.

“They expect us to still win, win conference. We don’t want to be the ones to mess up the streak,” said sophomore forward Delisa Chapman.

Six games in, the Cougars are 3-3.

College of the Canyons came into the season ranked No. 18 in the state by the California Community College Women’s basketball Coaches Association.

COC lost some pretty significant pieces from last year’s team — All WSC-South first-teamers guard Angelica Sahagun, forward Jazzmyn Davis and guard Amanda Adjari.

With that, COC lost its distributor in Adjari, its scorer in Sahagun and its post presence in Davis.

What’s left is a much different team than what the Cougar coaching staff thought it would have for the 2012-13 season.

COC thought it had three top players from a Palisades High team that won the CIF L.A. City Section Division II championship last year and Golden Valley double-double machine Janae Dean.

“We had five kids enrolled on the Sunday before school started and on Monday they all for different reasons didn’t come,” Herrick said. “I was saying at the time (the girls were) going to put us in the final four. ... It will be difficult to repeat as conference champions. I think if every one were healthy, we’d have a shot.”

That’s if, though.

Freshman and Antelope Valley High graduate Keiona Mathews averaged 21.3 points per game through the first three contests, then suffered a concussion in practice and hasn’t played since.

Freshman guard Mariah Howard of Cleveland High is coming back from a concussion.

COC has had to adjust with a team that is still trying to find itself.

Chapman, a sophomore forward from Littlerock High is taking on more and has been asked to play a larger role.

She scored just over two points per game last season.

Two girls are running the offense — freshman guard Shann Kolani of Taft High and freshman guard Nailah Long of Narbonne.

Kolani is the sister of former Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar.

Herrick is also hoping for big things from 6-foot-4 center Hope Smith, who he said if she really stretched herself she could be the most dominant post player in the state.

COC has been inconsistent early.

The team’s game-to-game scores have been as follows: 82, 107, 51, 81, 47, 54.

“Last year I think we got the concept quicker,” said sophomore guard Casey Scheller. “This year it’s taken us a while to get it.”

But they can get it.

The Cougars held a lead with three minutes to play against state No. 1 Mt. San Antonio College on Nov. 24 before losing 53-47.

The game showed they can hang with a tough team, but need to learn how to close.

“We have a long way to go,” Herrick said. “(The players) don’t understand it yet, what it takes. It takes a while. Usually by January they’ll figure things out.”

Conference play begins Jan. 12.


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