A fresh outlook for GCC women's basketball team

It's been a tough run the last couple of seasons for the Glendale Community College women's basketball team.

In that stretch, the Vaqueros have gone 6-44 and 3-21 in the Western State Conference's South Division. While times have been tough, it hasn't deterred coach Carrie Miller from hitting the recruiting trails around Los Angeles to bring in a new wave of talent and depth to help change the program's landscape.

"It can be hard to get people to come here after not winning a game two years ago and six last year," Miller said. "We tell them we are here to coach and teach them and try to get more wins.

"It's hard to hit the L.A. area for players because there are lots of options for the players. Hopefully, we can continue to reach out a little farther."

The Vaqueros will field a 16-member squad when they begin their season at 7 p.m. Friday against host Santa Barbara City College in its four-team tournament. Glendale had 12 players last season.

Miller will see how her latest group of players will respond to playing at the collegiate level. Fifteen of the 16 athletes are freshmen, something Miller doesn't mind.

"It's the first time I've had this many freshmen coming in at once," Miller said. "Usually, I have four or maybe five sophomores who can lead and know the system.

"I look at having this many freshmen as a positive challenge. We are way ahead of where we were last year. They've been able to pick up the little things and they are pushing each other hard to get better."

The lone returner will be Stephanie Sanchez, a forward. Sanchez played for the Vaqueros two seasons ago before taking off last season to focus on academics.

The guards will be Domynyque Johnson, Golnaz Velashjerdi, Ana Valencia, Fernanda Villegas, Bianca Galicia, Olivia Ochoa, Crescenta Valley High graduate Alexa Mirzaian, Irma Garcia, Patricia Montesflores, Jeanette Pinela and Nicole Pappelis.

Up front, Glendale will feature a cast that includes Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy graduate Lana Haddad, Galicia, Mirzaian, Michelle Hernandez, Montesflores, Pinela and Pappelis.

Haddad, a reigning All-Area pick, averaged 13.4 points and nine rebounds per game last season for Flintridge Sacred Heart.

Miller said Glendale can choose from different set lineups.

"We can go big and small," Miller said. "It's exciting to see their potential.

"Lana can help us get better at having an inside presence. She could be a big factor."

The Vaqueros, who last appeared in the playoffs in 2003, will partake in six tournaments through Dec. 22.

They will host one tournament, in addition to competing in tournaments from Fresno to San Diego.

The eight-team Vaquero Shootout will run Nov. 16-18 and will include Antelope Valley, West L.A., Fullerton, Ventura, Irvine Valley, Chaffey and Mira Costa colleges. The tournament's championship contest will begin at 4 p.m. Nov. 18.

"The preseason will be tough playing in a lot of tournaments," Miller said. "It gets them prepared for the division and we'll try to pull out some wins."

Glendale will tip off conference competition at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 on the road against Citrus. Its conference home opener will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 against Bakersfield, which shared the division championship last season with College of the Canyons.

The Vaqueros will close out the regular season portion of their schedule at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 against host L.A. Valley.

Miller said she expects the division to be formidable again.

"You hear all kinds of things," Miller said. "You never know what's going to happen, but you always know it's going to be tough.

"I believe we will be better than last year. We can compete in the division. That's all I want to see."


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