A new season for Lady Vikings
BARSTOW • The Barstow Community College women’s basketball team has making a return to postseason play a priority this season.
Head coach Tim Woods has a plan in store. He thinks the team will be fine as long as it stays focused on the ‘four E’s’: education, effort, energy and execution.
And while it’s still the preseason, he’s optimistic about the Lady Vikings’ chances.
“We’re doing well in the classroom, so education isn’t a problem. In fact, this is probably the best team I’ve ever had, academically,” said coach Woods before practice this week. “I see the effort and energy level getting raised every week. The only part left is execution, and we’re starting to get that down. This team is hungry.”
Barstow had a decent season last year, though it came up short of qualifying for playoffs. The team finished at 12-16, 6-8, in fifth place in the nine-team Foothill Conference.
The first thing that will be different this year is the Foothill itself. Cerro Coso has eliminated its women’s basketball program, while Mt. San Jacinto and Antelope Valley have left the conference. That leaves six teams, which will decrease the number of conference games and increase non-conference tilts, meaning more tournaments.
That makes one returning Lady Viking happy.
“I’m glad we’ll be playing more tournaments, I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of California has,” said sophomore BreAnna Fraser. “I’d like to see how we compare with the big schools.”
However the season is structured, the Lady Vikings intend to win more games, and have been practicing for the last two months. Coach Woods has 11 players on his roster, four of them returning from last year.
“The returnees are really helping out with the new players,” he said. “With some first-year players, you need to get them out of the high school mentality. But we have good additions and it’s just a matter of them getting the system down.”
Returning for their sophomore year are Fraser, who took down 92 rebounds last season; Shawnequa Norwood, who averaged 8.4 points per game; Jasmin Cruz, who scored 83 points; and Audry Donals, who scored 44 points off the bench.
Among the new players are two locals and two others who played in the Desert Sky League last year in high school. Coach Woods wanted to get one of the top DSL players and he was successful in landing Ebony Black, who played for Silverado. Vanessa Robinson and Estrella Mitchel both played for Barstow, while Jazzerre Gates was at Granite Hills. Also new this year are Ikia Daniels and Tichina Savoy, both from Las Vegas.
The Lady Vikings have been practicing together since school started in August. In the last week of September they took part in the Chaffey Fall Showcase and played four games, going 2-2.
“It was a good tournament. We got to see where we’re at and what we need to work on,” said Woods. “We did some good things. It really helped us, especially the freshmen, to give them an idea of the pace of the college game. Now when the season starts they won’t be shell-shocked.”
Norwood had a good season last year, and is hoping this one will be even better. She’s encouraged by what she’s seen so far.
“I had fun last year, and I’m expecting a lot this year. We’ve got some good players who can run the floor well and some good inside players to get the ball to, good shooters who can make the shots when needed,” she said. “I think we have a good shot at the postseason. We have girls here with heart for the game who want to win.”
Black is very glad to be with the Lady Vikings.
“This was my first choice. I’ve been to games here and checked out the campus and really liked it,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of progress with this team from August until now. We’re getting to know each other on and off the court, fitting the puzzle pieces together. If we keep our heart and determination, we’ll have a good season.”
As for Fraser, she can’t really explain her expectations. She just thinks this group is capable of making some noise.
“I’m really excited, I think this is a really good team. We had a good team last year, but I’ve just got a feeling,” she said. “We’ve been working well together, learning about each other in the preseason. We’re clicking a lot faster than last year.”
The Lady Vikings will start their season on the weekend of Nov. 15-17, when they’ll take part in the San Diego Mesa Tournament. That’s followed by their own Barstow Tournament, Nov. 22-24. After that are five more tournies, concluding at Mira Costa on Dec. 27-29, before the Foothill schedule begins in January.