SACRAMENTO, Calif.- With only three returning sophomores, two sophomore transfers and the addition of nine talented freshmen, the CRC Women’s Basketball team is looking forward to continuing the success of CRC Women’s Basketball and the goal of winning a conference championship. Although the Hawks will be young this year their heart goes much further than their age or experience.
The CRC Hawks finished the 12-13 season with a 14-14 record, but last year’s freshmen saw a lot of court time which will serve them well for this season. The leadership is already showing in just the early weeks of conditioning. The Hawks overall record in 2012-13 helped them to a berth into the playoffs, as they earned the #18 seed. The Hawks traveled to De Anza and just couldn’t get the wheels turning and ended their season with a 61-44 loss in the first round of playoffs. The Hawks fell short of their goals last season and the returning players are committed to achieving their goals and making it deep into the playoffs this year.
Although this year’s team may lack some playing experience, this is the most talented incoming freshman team in head coach Coral Sage's tenure. The CRC Hawks are planning to compete for another post season bid and have their sights set on a Big 8 Conference title. Coach Sage strongly believes that her squad is up for the challenge.
“I know this group is very talented and highly motivated to prove although they may be young, they have the heart and skill to build off of last years’ experience," says Coach Sage of this year's team. "This group also has great leadership and a freshmen group that is willing to follow the sophomores lead." "We have high expectations for this group and trust that they will be fearless on the court.”
The only two returning sophomores for the Hawks that saw court time are at the guard position. Leading the guards will be sophomore point/shooting guard Jade Sowell-Hundon. A Big 8 All-Conference player as a freshman, Sowell-Hundon (pictured right) will lead this team with her court experience and a new level of maturity this season. Sowell-Hundon has been dedicated in the off-season to becoming a better defender which will make her a much more rounded player.
The other returning guard is Miya Oaks, who was one of the team's top defenders for the Hawks last season. She has been working hard in the off season to also add depth to the shooting guard position. Oaks has also been dedicated to all aspects of her game in the off-season as well as developing her leadership skills. "We will be looking to her to be our “floor general” this season and has already proved to be a leader to our young team," said head coach Sage.
A transfer sophomore from American River College, Mele Kolokihakaufisi, will also help with court experience this season. Mele has worked hard to learn the CRC system and is a very talented point guard that knows how to get to the rim and finish. This will only help with the depth at the point guard position. Helping out this group of sophomores is the most talented freshman class we have ever seen here at CRC.
Point guard Laurene Hearn (Grant HS) will be an immense addition to the point guard position. Hearn took a couple of years off to begin her education at Cal Poly SLO but is back to chase her dream of playing college hoops. Her ability to see the floor and deliver pin point passes to her teammates will make her a strong presence on the court. Local player Ronniece Winslow (Sheldon HS) will bring speed and is a sharp shooter from the 3 point line. She will be a great threat from the outside for the Hawks this year. Sapphire Dedrick (Kennedy HS) spent two years playing volleyball for the Hawks and wanted to get back on the basketball court. She is a hard worker and will bring depth to the guard position for the Hawks.
Johnisa Bottley (Mc Nair HS) was a surprise addition to the Hawk family. “Jo” as she is known to her team, contacted Coach Sage over the summer wanting to try out for the team. After working hard in the summer and getting back in shape Jo will add speed to an already speedy team. CRC is known for a run and gun team and so Jo will fit in with her length and ability to get down the court with ease. Another early recruit, Sakara Brewer (Inderkum HS) caught Coach Sage’s eye at a preseason tournament due to her raw talent and what seemed a smooth ability to play the game. Coach Sage was excited with her potential and Brewer has lived up to every expectation so far. Her hard work ethic and her drive to get better make her a very dangerous player. Add that in with her skill level and we are very excited to see what she will do this year. Rounding out our guard spot is Cheyenne Mitchell (Center HS). A young guard with a lot of potential, Mitchell will be a good addition to our guard group. She is a hard worker and has the right mental attitude to play the CRC style of basketball.
"We are very deep at the guard spot this year," says assistant
coach Shantel Thomas. "This is good for us because we
play such an up tempo type of defense and offense that we will need
a lot of bodies." Thomas also believes there is plenty of
parity in terms of the talent at the guard position this
season. "We are also pretty solid across the board so we
won’t lose much when it comes to substitutions." "We
are very excited about our defense this year and can’t wait
to make life hard for other teams."
With no returning posts from last year’s team this season will be a learning curve for our “bigs”. The team's only sophomore, a transfer from Modesto Junior College who sat out last season due to transfer rules, Janie Myles will bring playing experience to the paint. She practiced all year with the team last season, and although she didn’t see any game time, she learned the system and is excited to get back on the court in games.
Joining Myles in the paint will be freshman Empres Barner (Rio Linda HS). Barner has been away from the basketball court for five years and is back to fulfill her dreams of playing college basketball. A standout at Rio Linda, Barner is a "beast in the paint," and a work horse on the boards.
The coaching staff is also excited to have her this season to bring some age and wisdom to the post game. Enimoa Laui (Burbank HS), or Mo as she is known to her teammates, is a transfer from Sacramento City College and will also bring some playing experience to the court. Mo is a strong body in the paint and we will be looking to her for rebounds and defense this season. Another new face to the CRC front court is Jayla Henderson (Franklin HS). Henderson was recruited early by CRC due to her tenacious play on the court. You can see her love for the game by the way she sacrifices her body all over the floor. The team is very excited to see what Henderson will do this season.
Rounding out the freshman post class is Antionette Stephens (Sheldon HS). Stephens was also recruited early on by CRC staff. She brings height that CRC has missed for the last few years. She is long and lean and can run the floor well for a tall player. She also has a nice touch from 10 to 15 feet. Stephens will help with the rebounding, another area that CRC has struggled with due to lack of height the last few years. The staff is also excited to have some height in the paint on defense.
“A very young and inexperienced group, this freshmen class has a lot to learn and must do it quickly," says head coach Sage. "The good news is this group has great leadership with Janie Myles in the paint, and they want to work and want to learn." "We are very excited about what the future holds for the players in the paint.”
Cosumnes River will open the 2013-14 season at the Delta Tournament (Nov. 8) in Stockton. Their first home appearance this season will take place at the CRC Invitational the following week (Nov. 14).