BARSTOW • Today, the Barstow Community College women's basketball team will go where no female Vikings hoopsters have gone before: the postseason.
The women's team is in its 11th year of play, but has never had a record good enough to make the playoffs. This year, the Vikings posted records of 20-8 overall, 9-5 in the Foothill Conference, which grabbed them the 17th seed in the California Community College Women's Basketball Association Tournament.
Tim Woods is in his seventh year with the squad, and his fourth as head coach. It came right down to the wire for the Vikings, as Woods found out during Monday's practice that his team would be playing a first-round tourney game this evening.
The coach has been pleased with how his team finished up its regular schedule. The Vikings went 4-1 in their last five games, the only loss coming in overtime to San Bernardino, which is in first place in the Foothill, and seeded third for the tournament.
"In our last five games, we've really put it all together," Woods said after Tuesday's practice. "We've had an up-and-down year. I don't always know what team will show up, but if it's the team I've seen over our last five games, we'll be okay."
Making the postseason isn't the only notable accomplishment for this year's Lady Vikings. Both Jazmyne Smith and Claire Williams were named All-Conference first-teamers, while Ieshia Alladin made the second team.
The biggest honor, though, went to Barstow's Nisha Barrett, who was named first-team All-State, and also MVP of the Foothill Conference. The Foothill coaches vote on the MVP, and with about 100 players to choose from in the conference, the competition is pretty fierce.
It caps off a sophomore season in which Barrett's play has attracted lots of attention from college scouts. She led the team with a double-double, averaging 19 points per game and 12.1 rebounds per game. She's currently sorting through the offers to decide where she'll play for the next two years, with several of those offers being from Division I schools.
"It's a great honor for her," Woods said of Barrett, who graduated from Barstow High School. "She's very happy, but it can be a little nerve-wracking. She has some big decisions to make. But she's a great kid. Wherever she goes, she'll blossom."
The team's accomplishments, coupled with those of the individual players, has made for a history-making season for the Vikings. Woods is happy not only for this year's team, but for the BCC women's basketball program in general.
"This can only help us," he said. "It's a program-builder, for sure."
For now, the team's only focus is on the next game, which will be tonight at 7 at San Diego Mesa College. The Olympians are the 16th seed.
Woods just wants the Vikings to keep doing what they have for the past couple of weeks.
"If we come out focused, don't turn the ball over, rebound, and are patient, we should win," he said. "It's one loss and out now, and I know they want to keep going, they don't want the season to end.
"We've got to come out ready to play. We have a good group this year, and it's in their hands. I can't teach anymore; we have to execute."