STOCKTON, Calif. – The Cosumnes River women's basketball team looks to continue their run of consecutive postseason berths this season, beginning today, when they tip-off their 2013-14 campaign at the Jocelyn Mancebo Classic later this afternoon. The Hawks open the year against the College of the Sequoias in a game scheduled for 2 PM.
The Hawks enter the year with high expectations, coming off a postseason appearance with a roster of talented freshmen last season. They'll be led this season by a veteran core of three sophomores that looks to have the Hawks right in the middle of the Big 8 conference championship discussion. CRC's success will likely be predicated on the production of the team's "big-three" of Jade Sowell-Hundon, Janie Myles and Miya Oaks. Sowell-Hundon (pictured right), the team's leading scorer last season, is coming off a year where she averaged 14 points per game as a true freshman. The talented combo guard will once again look to lead the Hawks offense again this season, as CRC will look to push tempo early and often. Oaks, a reserve guard last season who will take over point guard duties this season, has developed into a true floor general since last season. She'll have plenty of weapons to look to create for this season. The Hawks will be led in the paint by sophomore transfer Janie Myles this season, who provides the team with their first legitimate post threat in years. Myles, a transfer from Modesto JC who redshirted last season, is a dominant player in the paint who will also make a huge impact on the glass for the Hawks this season.
Cosumnes River also boasts a standout freshman class that head coach Coral Sage says is one of the best she's had since coming to Cosumnes River. At the guard spot, the team includes a deep recruiting class that should provide the team with plenty of depth in the backcourt this season, which bodes well for a team that gets up and down the floor as much as the Hawks do. Point guard Laurene Hearn will be an immense addition to the point guard position. 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 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 spent two years playing volleyball for the Hawks and wanted to get back on the basketball court.
Johnisa Bottley 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. Another early recruit, Sakara Brewer 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. "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."
A lot of the Hawks success will depend on the development of the team's post players this season, as they don't return a single post from last season's roster. With no returning posts from last year's team this season will be a learning curve for the "bigs." Joining Myles in the paint will be freshman Empres Barner. 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. Another new face to the CRC front court is Jayla Henderson. Henderson was recruited early by CRC due to her tenacious play on the court.
Rounding out the freshman post class is Antoinette Stephens. 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. "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."
CRC opens up today against the Giants of Sequoias in the opening round of the Jocelyn Mancebo Classic at San Joaquin Delta College. The tournament is named in honor of the former-Delta and University of Nevada guard who passed away in June from brain cancer. The winner of today's game will take on the winner of the Redwoods-Merced game at 4 PM today.
Stay tuned to CRChawks.com, as well as the official CRC athletics social media feeds for up-to-date information from the Jocelyn Mancebo Classic.