Photos by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. - The Whittier College Women's Basketball Team moves into their final exams concluding the first semester with a 5-1, 2-1 SCIAC record. Following the academic exams, the team's next four games will serve as a basketball version of final exams.
In order the opponents are: George Fox University (Currently ranked 9th in the country), University of Puget Sound (Lost last weekend to George Fox by one point), Brooklyn College (NCAA Tournament participant last season), and Illinois Wesleyan (Currently ranked 13th in the country). Those four games lead to the return to SCIAC play at defending SCIAC champion and NCAA tournament team a year ago Chapman University on January 2nd. "We are very excited about our progress and accomplishment to date," remarked Head Coach Roy Dow, "but with our schedule we certainly do not suffer any delusions of grandeur. We are playing against some of the very best women's basketball teams in the country in this next segment of our schedule. The margin of error will be small, the demand of execution at its highest if we are to even compete with these teams. And we do expect to compete."
The Poets have earned success to date with a solid team defensive effort leading the SCIAC in points allowed, defensive field goal percentage and defensive 3-point field goal percentage. From Coach Dow, "Our defensive stats are very cool indeed, but the season is very young and most teams' offenses are a work in progress in the early season. This next run of opponents will challenge our ability to defend versus teams with the combination of talent, skill level, athleticism, and style of play without question. And to be honest I think if you asked our players about our defense so far they will tell you we are capable of even better defense."
Individually the Poets are led in scoring by junior Cali Cubel '20 (Oceanside, CA) and sophomore Teani White '21 (Burbank, CA) with 15 ppg and 13.3 ppg respectively. But Coach Dow also cites "the energy, defensive intensity, commitment to rebounding from Laura Stroud '21 (Ann Arbor, MI) and Mia Maglinte '19 (Roseville, CA) has been significant. I absolutely love the versatility and physical toughness of these two young women." Other significant contributions have come from Zaria Branch '19 (Spring Valley, CA), Kellie Ogata '21 (Torrance, CA), and Daisy Cardenas '21 (Santa Clarita, CA). The frontcourt has been a combination of Monica Hanna '19 (Bellflower, CA), Emily Guerena (Montebello, CA) and Cyerra Dillard '20 (Fremont, CA). "There is so much potential in our roster, but it takes time," said Dow. "Monica, Zaria, Cyerra are still transitioning into the program. They work their butts off every day, are extremely attentive and want to improve. Our three freshmen are also transitioning into the program. Shaeleigh Wright '22 (Long Beach, CA) clearly impacted our most recent game with positive contributions. Allison Lou '22 (Cerritos, CA) and Sydney Mendoza-Beck '22 (Hayward, CA) are progressing after each had injury setbacks. "There are so many transitions to college, whether matriculating as a first-year or a transfer," observed Coach Dow.
"The talent of our new players is undeniable, but more importantly they add to our family culture. The team is very close knit, and we will need to draw upon that camaraderie daily to play and compete successfully throughout a long season. Look, to be successful it takes the contributions of a full roster. We just had our 30th practice prior to the Redlands game, our 6th game of the season. We had every player at practice on day one. Then between attending classes, additional academic responsibilities and then factor in injuries, etc., that 30th practice was the only other time we had our full team at practice. Every college team deals with missed practice time. I love what we have accomplished to date and even more importantly I love how they don't make excuses, they do the extra stuff like strength training and extra shooting on their own time around the classes and studying. I love how our student-athletes have taken ownership of our team's culture."