The 2011-12 season was coach Mike Granillo’s chance to build a new team.
A varsity squad of mostly freshman starters finished at 19-9 overall and 9-5 in the Valley Oak League and played in the first round of the Division II playoffs.
The Kimball girls intend to keep up that momentum, as last year’s freshman players return as sophomores, and two seniors look forward to their third year on the varsity team.
“We’re not going to be the team that’s unknown,” Granillo said. “We’re pretty well-known around the league now.”
Sophomore Allie Schmidt was the Jaguars’ leading scorer last year.
The 5-foot-6 point guard averaged 10.9 points per game thanks to her outside shooting and made the all-VOL first team.
“We have a couple new players that make us a lot better, and we’re working really hard in practice,” Schmidt said. “We have a lot of shooters, and we can play a fast-paced game with the players we have.”
Also back is sophomore Ayida Peters, a 5-11 forward and 2011-12 all-VOL defensive teamer. Sarah Nunes and Alexis Clark, both returning as sophomores, were also among the consistent scorer last season. Returning seniors are Sara Searle and Megan Bhathal.
The Bulldogs have been building up to a year like this, in which nine seniors are on the varsity roster.
“We’ve got a lot of experience we can mold and fine tune,” head coach Derek Solano said.
Senior guard Karsi Fyfe, now in her fourth year on varsity, was the team’s leading scorer a season ago, using 3-point shots to average 8.4 points per game and finish the year as an all-SJAA first-team player.
“We definitely have the hustle and capability,” Fyfe said “I think we’re going to go all the way this year. I’m definitely excited.”
Solano said the team can continue on what it accomplished last year, when the Bulldogs went 12-14 overall and 6-4 in the San Joaquin Athletic Association, and were third place in the league.
Seniors Emily Archartechahar and Shelby Perry were also leading scorers, and Solano expects seniors Tammy Serrato and Shelby Devlin to be big contributors.
Other seniors on the squad are Toni Juarez, Taylor Juarez, Angela Mariani and Alija Robinson.
“We’re going to be amazing,” said Perry, the team’s 5-11 starting center. “Everybody is working together, and we have good chemistry. The juniors fit in good, so it’s a good mix.”
West Wolf Pack
Wolf Pack coach Joe Hernandez had to reach into the freshman class to fill his team’s roster this year.
West’s only returning varsity players are seniors Ileyah Costa and Emma Bell, junior Nini Woodward, and sophomore Kate Bell. Juniors Elise Green and Angelica Nava-Perez move up from the junior varsity team.
Five freshmen, meanwhile, are new to Wolf Pack varsity basketball.
Hernandez expects to improve on West’s 2011-12 record of 7-19 overall and 2-8 in the Tri-City Athletic League and sees the returning players as a strong core.
“They were among our better players from last year, so they have a lot of experience,” Hernandez said. “Our freshmen coming up have a lot of talent, and we did a lot over the summer with them.”
Woodward, the team’s starting center, said practices over the summer got the team ready for the season.
“The returning leaders have stepped up, which is something our team is very proud of,” she said.
Costa, a point guard, expects the Wolf Pack will surprise the competition.
“We have a lot of potential,” she said. “We have a lot of athletic people, especially the upcoming freshmen,” she said.
Delta Charter Dragons
Delta Charter High School made its debut in the Mountain Valley League last year and returns with more experience and with more games on the schedule.
The Dragons went 2-12 overall last year, including a 1-9 record in the MVL.
Coach Chris Thornton said the team’s scoring threats include sophomores Emma Richardson and Vanessa Sanchez, the scoring leaders of last year’s team. Thornton predicts two new players, junior Asia Harris and freshman Kaitlin Good, will also be scoring threats.
Thornton expects to emphasize speed and ball handling.
Completing the team are sophomores Mia Gomez, Victoria Homen and Haley Anderson.
Senior point guard Marcelina Rosario said that many of the Dragons’ players were new to basketball last year, but gained confidence in their first season.
Richardson, also a point guard, added that with experience will come better teamwork.
“There were a lot of teams we could have beat, but we weren’t as strong a team then,” she said.
Mike Zuniga took over as the Falcons’ coach during the 2011-12 season in the middle of a rough year. Millennium finished at 6-15 overall and 0-8 in the Central California Athletic Alliance, so Zuniga and his team are out to make the Falcons competitive in tournaments and in their league.
“We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the team,” Zuniga said. “We’re looking at the long run. This is going to be a true rebuilding year.”
Junior point guard Flo Copeland, one of five players back from last year, sees a lot more potential this time around.
“People really try harder, and you can see the effort and the potential that the girls have,” she said. “I just learned to never give up and keep trying your best no matter what the scoreboard looks like.”
Other returning players are senior LaKayla Smith, juniors Kassandra Guzman and Madison Carroll and sophomore Perrillen Zuniga.
Zuniga said they provide the core for a team that will reboot the Falcons program, and he looks forward to making that happen.
“This is really my true start-to-finish year,” he said.
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or email@example.com.