Mendocino women ready to add to magical season
Photo by THOMAS DELGADO
Guard Elisa Vargas will play an important role for the Eagles when they open tournament play.
By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
In a milestone season, Mendocino College women’s basketball aims for another achievement — a state playoff win.
Setting a record for victories that carried Mendocino to its first conference title, the Eagles take on Sierra College today in the program’s first state playoff game. Mendocino is the underdog on the road, a role the Eagles embrace.
“Our team is pumped and ready to go. To win we have to play with heart,” said Elisa Vargas, a freshman from Cardinal Newman and the Eagles’ leading scorer.
Returning starter Cara Watts, out of Windsor, figured this year’s team could surpass the last season’s breakthrough squad that just missed the postseason.
“We knew we would be stronger. We thought we would definitely go further,” said Watts, the Eagles’ primary post player.
“A lot of players stepped up. Our whole team is really confident.”
Mendocino’s potential for success was evident from the beginning of fall workouts. An unselfish streak and competitive edge helped the team come together and play strong early in the season.
Making the extra pass and helping on defense, grinding for rebounds despite lacking size, Mendocino pushes its limits each night out.
“Our team’s strengths lies in the true grit and fight within our players and team as a whole,” said Mendocino coach Jody Steliga, a former Ukiah high standout who played at Mendocino. “The team has full trust in each other, knowing they will do whatever they can to win.”
Win the Eagles did, setting a school record on the way to the program’s first Bay Valley Conference title.
Mendocino sealed the league’s automatic postseason spot by defeating Laney College late in the regular season, finishing 19-7 overall.
“It was huge. It was just the best feeling ever,” Watts said.
What the Eagles have done well from the start is score with a balanced attack.
Four players average double figures, led by Vargas and Crystal Cervantes, from Stockton.
“We rarely had the same leading scorer every night, and it made our players tougher to scout. If one player was struggling, someone else would swoop in to take on the role,” Steliga said.
Also leading at point guard, Vargas has helped the Eagles soar to new heights.
“Elisa really controls the tempo in key situations of close games,” Steliga said.
Vargas has put in the work to adapt to the faster, more physical college game,
Improved dribbling and post-up skills have helped Vargas become a scoring threat who also makes teammates better.
“I grew in how to be a leader on and off the court,” she said.
Tops on last season’s scoring sheet as a forward, Watts now is Mendocino’s anchor in the post. While giving up some inches and plenty of pounds to opponents, Watts has become a more complete player.
“It was definitely a big change,” she said.
“I had faith in my teammates and I just do as much dirty work as I can for my team.”
On a team of guards, Watts battles underneath and helps create turnovers in the middle of Mendocino’s press.
“Our squad came into the year as a giant group of scorers, which we are often good at,” Steliga said.
“But what has really driven us in the tough times and carried us to wins in tight situations have been our defensive possessions.”
Unselfish on offense, improving on defense, Mendocino reached the team’s goals of winning the Bay Valley and reaching the California Community College Athletic Association playoffs.
In this monumental season, Mendocino is having fun.
“We are a pretty entertaining team,” Watts said. “The way we play as a team, it’s pretty inspiring.”
Mendocino College Eagles clinch first-ever conference championship
By JOE LANGSTAFF
Posted: 02/25/2013 09:42:56 AM
Ukiah Daily Journal
Wednesday evening, in Napa, the Mendocino College Eagles Women's basketball made history, clinching the program's first every conference championship, coming up big at the end of the game to defeat Napa Valley College Storm 62-56.
With the win, the Eagles finished Bay Valley Conference play with a 12-2 record, 19-7 overall. Second place Laney College beat Los Medanos Wednesday night to improve their conference record to 11-2 and 14-11 overall. The Eagles had a bye on Friday, while Laney played their final conference game vs. Marin. Laney won that game 57-45 to tie the Eagles as co-conference champions.
However, the Eagles won both conference games played with Laney. That should give them the tie-breaker over Laney when it comes to selection to the community college Northern California playoffs. The selection committee will meet today to determine the playoff brackets with regard to which teams are selected, their seeding and whom they will play in the first round.
The Eagles were a strong favorite going into Wednesday's game to beat Napa Valley. The two teams played on January 17 in Ukiah, with the Eagles winning that game handily 62-38. But Wednesday's game was being played on Napa's court and on the Storm's Sophomore Night. Despite their 6-7 conference mark and 9-15 overall record, it was not unexpected that the Storm might give the Eagles a better game than they had back in January. That turned out to be the case.
Napa Valley took an early 7-4 lead. The Storm's gym is a large one, with the distances from the court longer to both the bleachers and the end walls. Moreover, for this game, west-side bleachers were not extended for use, making for substantial open space to that side. It's understandable that the odd dimensions may have thrown off the Eagles' long range shooting. What was not expected was that they would have difficulties early on also scoring in close, including layups, missing many shots. Eight minutes in the game, the score was tied 8-8.
With a few turnovers throw into the mix, the Eagles found themselves trailing 15-10 at the 10 minute mark. The situation was mitigated somewhat by the Eagles playing close to their normal stingy defense.
Defensive leader sophomore Michelle Chown (McKinley HS) helped get the offense going with two free throws and then a jumper in the paint. Fouled on a layup attempt, Elisa Vargas (Cardinal Newman HS) converted to charities to give the Eagles their first lead since early in the game,16-15, with 8:08 showing on the clock.
hen, turning up the defense another couple notches, full-court pressing and trapping, the Eagles then made five consecutive steals, only to miss fast-break layup attempts on the first three. After the fourth, the ball found its way to Kendra Newton (Santa Rosa HS), Eschewing another layup attempt, Newton knocked down a three from the left side.
On the fifth steal in succession, Chown found Vargas for a layup attempt that drew a foul. Vargas converted both free throws, putting the Eagles up 21-15.
Vargas shortly made a jumper in the paint off an assist by Crystal Cervantes (Venture Academy, Stockton). Vargas then made yet another Eagles steal, passing to Newton who fed Chown for a layup and a 25-19 lead with 4 minutes to play in the half.
But the Storm would not drift away this night. In the time remaining, they stabilized, scoring four points and allowing the Eagles just 2 more points before half, the Eagles hitting another cold spell. At half, it was game on, with the Eagles holding a 27-23 lead.
Early in the second half, the Eagles suddenly regained their shooting touch beyond the arc. Chown, Newton, and Vargas connected, putting the Eagles up by 13 points four minutes into the second half. But the Storm cut the lead to 10 at the 14:32 mark.
The teams traded points over the next 6 minutes of play, the Eagles up 13 briefly after a Kaleigh Lincoln (Ukiah HS) three, but still up by 10, 46-36, at the 8:21 mark. It seemed that the Eagles were now in control of the game.
But Napa would not go away. Two minutes later they had cut the lead to 46-43. For the second time in the game, Newton came up with a big 3-ball to slow the Storm momentum.
But two more missed layups and then a turnover kept the Eagles from extending their lead. With 4:40 to play, the Storm's Natasha Wallace knocked down a three to make it a 3-point game. After Vargas made a 3-point play on a layup with a foul, Wallace bombed again from beyond the arc. Napa's big post player Allana Burham, who would end the night as her team's top scorer, made a layup to cut the Eagles lead to 2 at 54-52 with 3:18 to play.
Fouled on an inbound layup attempt, the Eagles missed both free throws. Napa's Kelsey Hurd followed with a long jumper for two, tying the game 54 all with 2:37 to go.
The Eagles, with their backs to the wall and in danger of letting the game and a conference championship slip away, responded.
Cara Watts (Windsor HS) found an open Vargas who proceeded to drain a three from the left side, with Mendocino calling a timeout with 2:25 to go. Napa inbounded and then called another timeout 15 seconds later.
When play resumed the Storm worked for a shot, finally attempting a three, but missing with Eagles rebounding with 1:49 to play.
The Eagles ran some time off the clock before attempting layup, missing but drawing a foul call. But again. free throws were missed, with Napa rebounding.
The Storm broke through the Eagles defensive pressure, finding Krystale Terrado who banked in a jumper in the paint to cut the Eagles lead to 57-56 with 1:11 to play and Napa calling a timeout.
When play resumed, the Storm double-teamed the ball, forcing a jump ball call, with possession going to the Eagles who called timeout with 51.3 to play. When play resumed a ball went out of bounds, off a Storm player, the Eagles retaining possession with 10 seconds left on the shot clock.
The Eagles inbounded, with the ball finding its way to Cervantes in the right corner beyond the arc. Just before the shot clock expired, Cervantes squared up and arched a shot towards goal. The ball hit nothing but net, good for 3 points with 25.2 showing on the clock and Eagles lead now at 60-56.
Napa inbounded the ball. But before they could get it past midcourt, Chown made her fifth steal of the game and the Eagles' 16th. The Eagles called a timeout with 19 seconds on the game clock.
When play resumed, Vargas was quickly fouled with 18.1 seconds remaining. In the double bonus, she nailed both charities, driving another nail in the coffin.
The final nail was the Eagles' 17th steal of the game by Cervantes at midcourt with 12 seconds remaining. The Eagles then ran the remaining time off the clock with Napa conceding and not fouling. When the final buzzer sounded, the Eagles had a hard-fought 62-56 win and the program's first conference championship.
Offensively, the stats weren't all that impressive, with the exception of the 62 total points that were 6 more than Napa scored. Defensively it was another story. The Eagles shot 35 percent from the floor, but were 8-for-19 on threes. Vargas led the Eagles with 22 points. She also had 4 steals, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and a block. Newton had had 12 points on four threes. Chown had 10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 assists. Watts had 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Cervantes had 7 points, 3 steals, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Edmonds had 3 rebounds, an assist and a block. Jonesha Beasley had 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Lincoln had 3 points and a rebound.
The regular season over, the Eagles continue to practice, looking toward the playoffs.
Lady Eagles win showdown; beat Laney 65-55 to reclaim first place
By MARK WIGET
Special to the Ukiah Daily Journal
On a night the Mendocino College Eagles Women's Basketball team honored its sophomores, the Eagles defeated the Laney College Eagles for the second time this season and took over BVC supremacy with their sweep of Laney in a 65-55 victory on Friday.
The Eagles sit atop the BVC (11-2), followed by Laney (10-2). Mendo must keep pace this evening with a win over Napa College (5-7) to ensure the top spot. The Eagles were victorious over Napa, 62-38, back on January 19 in Ukiah.
Early in the first half, Laney was quick to the ball (7 steals in the first half) and basket.
They forced Mendo into three consecutive turnovers on the first three possessions. But the Eagles fought back. After a steal and assist by Elisa Vargas (Cardinal Newman HS) to a streaking Crystal Cervantes (Venture Academy, Stockton) in transition, Mendo took a 12-11 led at 12:00.
Laney had 9-point leads, 24-15, with 7:50 remaining and 29-20, at 4:10, before the Eagles went on a 7-0 run with 1 minute left in the half. Cara Watts (Windsor HS) clicked her heels and nailed a triple, then a deuce just inside the arc. A slice-down-the-lane layup by Kendra Newton (Santa Rosa HS) pulled the Eagles within two, 29-27.
After an Eagles' time-out, Vargas picked up her third personal foul and Laney's Sharlina Gibson sank one charity as Laney went into the locker room leading 30-27 at intermission.
Mendo's Jonesha Beasley's (Lowerlake HS) cross-over dribble and drive down the lane opened the second half, leaving the score 30-29, Laney, at 18:30. Then, Vargas corralled a rebound off a missed Laney shot, drove coast-to-coast for the lay-up, with the Eagles taking the lead at 17:50, never to relinquish it.
Mendocino finished a 26-7 run in 10 minutes at 8:15 remaining to give them a 16-point cushion, 53-37. The run was sparked by freshmen Katherine Edmonds (Upper Lake HS), Kaleigh Lincoln (Ukiah HS) and Cervantes.
During the 10 minutes, Edmonds had 6 points, 3 rebounds and 1 theft. Cervantes drained 2 treys, and Lincoln added a triple. Laney, who had 7 players on their roster, appeared gassed during this period, missed some easy open looks and committing 3 turnovers as well.
Laney cut the Eagle lead to 59-51 at the 2:45 mark on a floater in the paint by sophomore Desirae Miller. Michelle Chown's (McKinleyville HS) lay-up at 2:20 put the Eagles up by ten, 61-51.
At 1:49, on what appeared to be a hard player control foul on Laney's Gibson was called a block on Mendocino's Watts in the lane. There was a collective sigh from the crowd as Watts had taken a serious hit and later found out she had incurred a high ankle sprain. Edmonds replaced the injured Watts.
Watts would return with 44 ticks on the clock after Laney trimmed the score to 61-55 on traps in the backcourt. Laney had to foul in the closing seconds and the Eagles finished out the game on the free-throw line, 65-55 victors.
In an emotional ending of their home season in front of their beloved fans, the sophomores were honored after the game. Long-time public address announcer Glen Steliga introduced each sophomore after announcing her efforts for the Lady Eagles during the past two years and each was given a bouquet of flowers by Head Coach Jody Steliga.
Here's what the sophomores did on the night, and some of their accomplishments during the past two years as announced by Steliga:
Mendocino sophomore Jonesha Beasley (Lower Lake HS), a fierce competitor, had 8 rebounds (5 offensive) and 10 points. "She has been the key defender for the Eagles with smothering defense and crafty moves on offense. As a freshman, she contributed 9 points and 5 rebounds per game."
Cara Watts (Windsor HS) tallied 9 rebounds and 10 points. "Without the services of 6-0 redshirt freshman Shelby Paolino (Analy HS), who was injured with an ACL tear early in the season, Watts filled the roll of the big person underneath. It is a role quite different from last season as she sacrificed her offensive skills (16 points per game) for the good of the team.
Watts was voted team captain for two years. She is a natural leader on and off the court. She led the Eagles as a freshman with 16 points and 8 rebounds per game, while being voted First Team All-BVC Conference. She filled an immense role of guarding the post and rebounding."
Yarely "Yaya" Contreras" (Fall River HS) didn't have much of an opportunity to contribute in the game, as her minutes were limited, although her presence during the past two years has been tremendous. "She is a tenacious, scrappy defender and unselfish player on offense. She is always looking to dish to her teammates and plays solid defense. As a freshman, she averaged 3 points, nearly 2 assists and was voted the Sixth Man Award because of her spark when she entered the game. The coaches will miss her positive attitude and crafty skills.
Michelle Chown, playing perhaps her best game for Mendo, had 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 thefts and 4 points. "She is an incredible 2-sport athlete, leading her soccer team to a Conference Championship. She was voted the basketball Defensive MVP as a freshman because of her intuitive help-side and on ball defense. As a freshman, she contributed 2 assists, 2 steals, and 6 points per game. She has brought an explosive spark to both ends of the court."
Freshman Elisa Vargas (Cardinal Newman HS) came up big once again for Mendo. She had 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, was 8-10 from the free-throw line and scored 17 total points. Cervantes added 8 points, 2 steals, 5 assists, and 2 rebounds. Edmonds had 6 points, 3 rebounds, and a steal. Lincoln had 6 points on two treys and Newton chipped in 4 points to round out the Eagle scoring.
Laney's Gibson led all scorers with 23 points, followed by Miller's 13 points as Laney's second highest scorer.
Coach Jody Steliga termed the game an "epic night for women's basketball in Ukiah. The Ladies came in and played a hard fought game to take No. 1 Laney. We were supported by the largest fan base Mendocino College has seen for the Eagles.
"It was truly an exciting, fast-paced game and I am thankful so many were ableto share the moment with our program and share the honor in recognizing ourdedicated sophomores.
"We need to grasp the win against Napa College. It will guide us into playoff berth as the No. 1 seed from the Bay Valley Conference. One day, practice, and game at a time, and by Sunday February 24th we will have the news on who, when, and where we will play.
"The Lady Eagles and their coaching staff would like to send a huge thank you to the incredible fan support. This season has brought in the largest and most vocal crowds the women's basketball program has experienced here at Mendocino College."
Mendocino is hosted by the Napa Valley College Storm, tonight, in Napa, at 5:30 p.m.
Mendocino College Men's & Women's Basketball help bring in DONATION $ for the American Cancer Society,
Thank you to everyone who donated and came out to SUPPORT!
LISTEN ONLINE TO HOME GAMES!
GAME TIMES: 5:30pm
THIS WEEK: Wed. February 6th vs Solano College 5:30pm
Fri. February 8th vs Contra Costa College 5:30pm
2012-2013 Bay Valley Conference UPDATE
January 28th STATE POLLS
Northern California Rankings
#15 Mendocino College
15-6 Overall Record
7-1 Conference Record
HAPPY HOLIDAYS & NEW YEAR
-Love Mendocino College Women's Basketball
MONTEREY PENINSULA COLLEGE TOURNAMENT
Mendocino College Consolation Champions
All-Tournament Player- #24 Jonesha Beasley
SRJC Caren Franci Tournament
MENDOCINO COLLEGE CONSOLATION CHAMPIONS
All-Tournament Player: #33 Elisa Vargas
HOME SWEET HOME
Last month the Lady Eagles traveled north to Siskiyous and Shasta. Along the way, they delivered a present to Aunt Katina; the Aunt of MC employee Anna Daugherty. The Eagles enjoyed their visit, and came away with much more than they imagined! Please follow the link below, and enjoy the visit too,
Home Sweet Home With Katina
Sincerely, Lady Eagles' Basketball
MENDOCINO COLLEGE 2012-13 Team Introduction
The Mendocino College Women's basketball program has their eyes set on a conference championship. The four returners, Cara Watts of Windsor (First Team All-Conference and Team Award Offense MVP), Yarely Contreras of Fall River (Team Award 6th Man), Michelle Chown of McKinleyville (Team Award Defense MVP & Coaches Award), and Jonesha Beasley of Lower Lake (Honorable Mention All Conference) will be joined by a strong force of incoming freshmen. The returners are coming into their sophomore year with much experience and contributing strength from their freshmen season. Sadly, shooter and returner, Jaylen Wilson was faced with a knee injury in late August needing surgery and use of her redshirt year. Luckily, she will return next season polished up and ready to go mentally and physically.
As for the incoming freshmen, there is an army of talent and strength. Elisa Vargas of Cardinal Newman is a Ukiah local and will add competitive poise on the court in the guard position. Shelby Paolino is coming from Analy High School where she led the squad to a Conference championship and adds heights, defensive smarts, and an inside presence for the Eagles. Kendra Newman from Santa Rosa High is coming in with smooth shooting and is a lucky lefty! Crystal Cervantes is a smart player and guard who will add poise and detail to the court. Another local star joining the squad will be Kaleigh Lincoln of Ukiah High School; a very deadly outside shooting threat. Mariah Escobedo from Willits high school is a hard working, contributor in all areas and will bring that Willits tenacity with her, while Kat Edmonds from Upper Lake brings a natural athleticism that will create problems for the other team on offense and defense.
Overall, the team is looking strong and will be a competitive, fun program to watch. The Lady Eagles represent local talent from our local communities with pride and the goal to make us all proud!
2012-2013 Lady Eagles Volunteer Day
DAY OF CARING
Head Coach Steliga earns 2012 Bay Valley Coach of the Year Honors
By JOE LANGSTAFF • The Ukiah Daily Journal
When the Bay Valley Conference Women’s Basketball coaches met after the conclusion of the post-season Conference tournament, one of the items on the agenda besides selection of the All-Conference players (more on that later) was the selection of the Conference Coach of the Year. After the votes were tabulated, it should have come as little or no surprise that 2011-2012 BVC Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year was none other than Mendocino College’s Head Coach Jody Steliga. Having just led the Lady Eagles to the most wins in a season in the program’s history, Steliga was a nobrainer pick and deservedly so. The 15 wins on the season smashed the previous school mark for women’s basketball, surpassing the previous high of 11 victories. In addition, the Eagles crafted a 9-3 record in the Conference’s Bay Division for a strong second-place _nish behind Laney College (11-1) in the Bay Division and third in the conference overall behind Laney and the Valley Division champion, Los Medanos College (10-1). The third-best record in the conference earned the Eagles a home game in the first round of the post-season conference tournament. In that game they soundly thrashed Yuba College 65-49. In the second round, in perhaps their signature game of the season, they upset Los Medanos, in Pittsburg, winning in overtime, 99-92.
Asked about her reaction when notified of her selection, Steliga, now having completed here fifth year at the helm of the Mendocino Women’s Basketball Program, replied, “I was surprised. It was flattering to be up there with Los Medanos and Laney (the coaches of those two teams also being nominated by their colleagues). It was an honor to be up there with those coaches, to be nominated. Then to actually get it (Coach of Year Award) was a good feeling.” Steliga pointed out that she felt the award was not just for her alone, but also for her assistant coaches Jaclyn Horiguchi and Jacqueline Sanchez. “Obviously it’s not a single handed job. So we defnitely have assistant coaches of year as well. It’s because of the little things they do, that are actually big things for the program, that help us have our success. They both can come in with different aspects and can fill the holes that I can’t. Steliga quotes legendary woman’s basketball coach Pat Summitt (the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history of either a men's or women's team in any division) who said, ‘I always try to hire people smarter than me. It’s only going to make your coaching staff stronger.’ I feel we have a great coaching staff. It means a lot to have dedicated coaches like them. I think it trickles down to the players. It enables them (the players) to have trust and commit to us as well.”
Asked if she thought that having women coaches coach women’s sports might be advantageous for the female athletes, she replied, “I think we (women’s coaches) do have a slight advantage. Being females helps us connect a little better with our players and have a better understanding of the dynamic of women’s teams. I think, sometimes, men coaches just don’t understand the dynamic of girls.” Asked about her coaching style, which appears to be quite composed and in control courtside during games, Steliga had this to say. “We definitely have ‘our moments’ as coaches. It’s definitely an up and down emotional job. I try to remain calm--at least on the sidelines. They (the players) are looking at you. It’s important to keep your composure as much as possible, because it just trickles down. It goes down to coaching philosophies.” Now having completed her fifth year as head coach at Mendocino, Steliga feels the experience has helped her grow as a coach. “I’ve learned every year I’ve been coaching. I evaluate myself and obviously we get evaluated as well. We try to tweak things each year to make improvements in the program.”
Asked what changes she has made since first taking over the position of head coach, Steliga note changes she has made in recruiting, practice plans and weight training. She and the coaches go to coaching seminars and read books, watch instructional videos on their sport, trying to increase their knowledge of the game and come up with new ideas. She feels that talking about the game with other coaches is very helpful. “that’s the most helpful, talking to other coaches. I always go to the state tournament. All the coaches are there from the JC level. There’s nothing better than talking to more of a senior coach and bouncing ideas off of them and asking them about situations they have had.”
As to what she has learned in over years of coaching, Steliga explained, “What it (coaching) comes down to is this. There are all these different types of players. Eventually you end up coaching all of those types. You learn how to deal with different personalities and motivational issues. Basically, what I’ve learned, gained more knowledge, is how to work with my players. I try to tap into their emotional reasons for playing basketball and try to motivate them.” She also tries to “keep them on the right track, make sure they’re going in the right direction and doing the right things as a person.” Steliga acknowledges the big role the players themselves make to the success of the program (and helping coaches earn Coach of the Year awards). “It’s obviously been a slow process to turn the program around here. Every year it’s been up and down a little bit. But with more experience and getting better players, everything just clicked this year. A lot of our success lies in the hands of the players. We give them the tools but they go out on the floor and do it all. I thank them for going out and doing the game plan, sticking to their roles, trusting in the program and trusting system. They’re the ones who make the wheel turn.”
Steliga played on the Mendocino College Women’s Basketball Team from
2003-2005. In her first season, Steliga averaged 19.2 points (19th in the state), 3.5 steals, 6.7 rebounds and shot 40 percent from the floor. In her sophomore year, she became team captain and lead on the stat board. Steliga broke the school record, scoring 31 points and later tied the record in the 03-04 season and recently tied by Former Standout Cara Watts! Both seasons Steliga was named First Team All-Bay Valley Conference. She received an award for Outstanding Athletic Achievement in Women’s Basketball 2003-2005. After graduating from Mendocino College, Steliga signed with NAIA Division I Concordia University under an academic and athletic scholarship, playing for the university’s women’s basketball team and becoming the starting shooting guard. In her senior year, Steliga was team captain and an
Academic All-American. In 2007, she was hired as Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Mendocino College. In her first year she led the Eagles to second place in the Bay Valley
Conference with a 10-4 record. In 2010, she was inducted into the Mendocino College Sports Hall of Fame.
By JOE LANGSTAFF • The Ukiah Daily Journal
2011-2012 Sonoma County Standouts
Press Democrat Article BELOW
#4 Cara Watts, Fr G/F #21 Haley Ryals, So G/F
|Former Empire prep hoops standouts lead Mendocino College
Mon. March 26, 2012 at 8:35 p.m. | By Michael Coit
Cara Watts led the Eagles with 16 points a game
By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The most successful season ever for Mendocino College women’s basketball featured a decided Sonoma County flair. Coached by Jody Steliga, a former Ukiah standout, Mendocino was among the Bay Valley Conference’s top teams. Leading the Eagles were all-conference selections Cara Watts, from Windsor High, and Haley Ryals, out of Santa Rosa High.Mendocino won a school record 15 contests and capped the season with a pair of victories in the Bay Valley Conference tournament.A strong shooting squad, Mendocino was second in the conference with 64 points a game and led in 3-point shooting. Also strong on defense, Mendocino led the conference in rebounds and blocked shots.
First-year guard Watts was a big addition for Mendocino. The All-Empire player out of Windsor led the Eagles with 16 points a game and pulled down nearly nine rebounds per contest.“My goal was to come into Mendocino and contribute on and off the court as a well-rounded team player,” Watts said. “Earning first team all-conference was a cherry on top of an exciting, successful season.” Getting her back for the coming season should make Mendocino tough again.“Cara is an extremely coachable, goal-oriented player who sees beyond the practice, the game, and even Mendocino College to be her motivation and guide to her strong work ethic,” Steliga said.
Also earning all-conference honors was Ryals, from Santa Rosa High. Ryals blossomed as a basketball player during her two years at Mendocino. Scoring 12 points a game, Ryals also averaged nearly 13 rebounds per contest — impressive double-double numbers. Showing her versatility, Ryals was third in the conference with four assists per game and led with nearly two blocks each night. “I was very pleased with how well we finished this season and our improvement from my freshman season. As much as we worked hard we also had fun,” Ryals said. Playing at a four-year college could be next for Ryals.
“Haley was a valuable contributor both years at Mendocino,” Steliga said. “She has the potential to move on to the next level for academics and basketball.” The postseason honors included Bay Valley Conference Coach of the Year recognition for Steliga. Completing her fifth season as Mendocino coach, Steliga earlier played for the Eagles. She was twice all-conference after a standout career at Ukiah.
Steliga finished with two stellar seasons for Concordia University, an NAIA program, where she was team captain and an academic All-American her senior year.
2011-2012 SEASON RECAP
Jody Steliga, Head Women's Basketball Coach
(707) 468-3094/3166 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Mari, Athletic Director | Office (707) 468-3165 |
Fax (707) 468-3132 | email@example.com
Anna Daugherty, Administrative Assistant | Office (707) 468-3255 |
Fax (707) 468-3132 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Naoto Horiiguchi, Athletic Trainer | (707) 468-3037 | email@example.com