On the basketball court, nothing stops Christine Kepenekian from
getting what she wants.
But when it came to finding a quality college program to play for,
it looked as if the Burbank High girls’ star had been stopped cold.
Only a few weeks ago, Kepenekian -- who graduated last month --
was prepared and set to play for Van Nuys L.A. Valley College.
“I was even working out with the team and I was getting my classes
ready to go,” Kepenekian said. “Valley was the place I was expecting
to go and I was ready to go there and play.”
However, Kepenekian’s best laid plans took a turn for the good.
She was contacted by Cal State University Bakersfield and offered
a scholarship to play for the NCAA Division II women’s team.
It was a offer Kepenekian jumped at.
Although she felt badly about having to leave Valley College on
such short notice, the talented guard said she couldn’t pass up the
opportunity to play for the successful program at CSUB, as she signed
a scholarship last month.
“They were relying on me to be at Valley Collage next season,”
Kepenekian said. “So it was hard for me to tell them that I wasn’t
going to be playing for them. I felt really bad about it.
“But they were really good about the news. They wished me well and
they were happy that I had found a good place to play like
The university had shown a great deal of interest in Kepenekian
prior to her senior season. She even took a trip to the Bakersfield
campus and met with Roadrunner coaches and players.
But as the 2002-03 Bulldog season got underway, Kepenekian said
she stopped hearing from the university.
“I figured they either forgot about me, or they had found someone
else who they wanted more,” she said. “I really didn’t know what
When Kepenekian finished up another fine season with Burbank in
February, there was still no word from CSUB.
It was then that she decided that playing at Valley College would
probably be her best option.
That was, however, before the Roadrunners came back into the
With a dedication to success and a fine program in tact,
Kepenekian said CSUB is a nice fit for her.
“I wanted to play for a successful program, that was important to
me,” she said. “But it was also important for me to go to a college
that wasn’t too far from home. Bakersfield has all of that. It’s also
great because the campus is less than an hour and a half from
Although Kepenekian might have thought CSUB had forgotten about
her during the season, that was not the case.
Second-year Roadrunner Coach Tim La Kose said he has had his eye
on the potent scorer for some time.
“We have known about Christine for a while, and we have been
following her,” he said. “So she was still in our plans.”
Impressed by her skills on the basketball court, La Kose said
Kepenekian beings a wealth of athletic and academic excellence to the
“She is just an all-around good person,” La Kose said.
“But as far as basketball wise, she can do so many things on the
court. She has proven to be a great scorer, she can run and she can
“We are looking forward to having her here and we feel privileged
to be able to have an athlete of her caliber in our program. We are
expecting good things from her.”
Despite playing for a Burbank (12-15) team that experienced its
share of ups and downs last season, Kepenekian provided leadership
and an impressive offensive punch for the Bulldogs.
The three-time Burbank Leader All-Area star was among the top
players in the state in scoring, averaging 24.1 points a game. She
also averaged 13.5 rebounds, five assists and four steals a game.
Proving she is a potent scorer from the outside, Kepenekian made
64 of 157 three-point attempts.
One of her most impressive accomplishments came in December in the
Bellarmine-Jefferson Holiday Classic. Kepenekian scored a season-high
40 points in leading Burbank to a 61-58 win against Van Nuys
Montclair Prep and its superstar Eshaya Murphy, who has signed with
She also had a fine Foothill League game against Canyon in which
she scored 23 points and had 24 rebounds.
However, Kepenekian’s most impressive statistic has to do with
consistency. In the Bulldogs’ 27 games, she scored in double figures
in all but one contest -- a game against Saugus in which she was
“What was one of the most impressive things to us about Christine
is her consistency,” La Kose said.
“She players in a very tough league and no matter how many players
they put to defend her, she was still able to do well and get her
“To be able to do that, and to be able to overcome adversity, that
tells me a lot about Christine as a basketball player -- and as a
Kepenekian joins a Roadrunner program that thrived during the
2002-03 season, putting together a 29-2 record and winning the
California Collegiate Athletic Assn. title with a 21-1 mark.
Along with putting together a 21-game conference winning streak,
the team also won the West Regional and advanced to the elite eight
in the Division II playoffs, losing to eventual-champion South Dakota
State in the quarterfinals.
CSUB ended the season ranked fifth in the nation.
In its three years of existence, the Roadrunners have advanced to
the postseason all three seasons.
With their share of talented returning players, the Roadrunners
did lose All-American point guard Diane Dittburner.
“With our point guard gone, we are hoping that Christine can come
in and help us at that spot,” La Kose said.
A perennial All-Foothill League award winner, Kepenekian is just
happy to be playing for a program that is expected to win --
something she was unaccustomed to at Burbank.
“Although we didn’t win as much as I would have liked at Burbank,
it was fun for me and I learned a lot,” she said.
“But I’m just excited to be playing in college and I am really
looking forward to the experience.”