Glendale Community College Women's Basketball Preview: Vaqueros see plenty of room for improvement

There was quite a turnaround last season for the Glendale Community College women’s basketball program.

A campaign removed from winning just three games, the Vaqueros got back on track in a hurry and more than tripled their win output.

It’s a springboard that’s got Glendale second-year coach Joel Weiss excited about the Vaqueros’ future.

“I’m very appreciative of what our players did last year and we had quite a bit of success,” said Weiss, whose team finished 16-12, 6-4 in the Western State Conference East Division for third place. “They did plenty for us and they should be proud of what they were able to accomplish.

“Now, we are looking ahead and trying to build off what we did last year. The foundation has been laid so we can get to where we want to be.”

Glendale, which will field 15 players, will begin its season at 4 p.m. Saturday with a nonconference home contest against Chaffey.

While Weiss doesn’t yet have a projected starting lineup in tact, the expectations will include soaring in the division and qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

“It’s just about being able to fulfill our potential,” said Weiss, who previously served as an assistant on the college’s men’s team. “We’ll probably be evaluating things on a day-to-day basis and maximizing our time at practices.

“We’ll look to solidify our starting lineup and we know the players are capable of pushing each other. There will be lots of competition.”

Glendale will bring back sophomore forward Brooke Radcliff, a Burroughs High product. Radcliff averaged 7.7 points and 4.4 rebounds a game last season en route to receiving all-conference accolades.

“Brooke will be our only returning starter and she had a very good season,” Weiss said. “She’ll continue to be a very good two-way player who we’ll be able to count on.”.

Glendale will have 11 freshmen in the mix looking to crack the starting lineup. A group of them have local ties after having successful high school careers at Burroughs, Crescenta Valley and Glendale. The Vaqueros brought in forward Sylvia Vartazarian, who helped Glendale High advance to the semifinals last season. The other local players are sophomore forwards Paula Garcia (Burroughs) and Halia Kekahuna (Crescenta Valley) and freshmen forwards Caitlyn Pentland (Burroughs) and Fabi Jimenez (Providence) and freshman guard Melissa Grande (Burroughs).

“We went out looking for character players who can lead and a lot of the people we’ve brought in over the last couple of years have won a CIF or L.A. City Section championship or helped their teams get to the semifinals,” Weiss said. “Our challenge will be to take those qualities and transform them to the college level and have them get used to the speed.”

Glendale will start its second season in the division, which includes L.A. Valley, Antelope Valley, Citrus, Barstow and Victor Valley. L.A. Valley and Antelope Valley shared the conference crown last season.

Before beginning conference, the Vaqueros will partake in two tournaments and 10 conference games between Saturday and Jan. 6.

Glendale will tip off conference Jan. 13 with a home contest against Victor Valley before concluding the regular season Feb. 17 against visiting Antelope Valley.

“I can see our division being a lot stronger,” Weiss said. “There are a lot of coaches in the division who are in their first to third years and that will play a role in shaping the conference.”

charles.rich@latimes.com

Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich

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