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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Seniors ready to lead women’s basketball team back to glory

After winning their conference and reaching the NCAA Championship tournament for the ninth time in the past 11 years, the Chico State women’s basketball team just wants one thing this season.

They want to do it all again.

The team, fresh off of a 20-6 record in 2012-13, a trip to the California Collegiate Athletic Association semifinals and a berth in the NCAA tournament, has gone back to work this year with the same goals in mind.

Head coach Brian Fogel, entering his sixth season with Chico State, said winning the CCAA title is always the goal. To get back to that point, Fogel said, the team will rely on the leadership of four seniors to be the team’s strength.

“These seniors that have played together, that were thrown in the fire when they were freshmen and sophomores, they have done a great job of making the program what it is today,” he said.

Fogel said it all starts with senior point guard Courtney Hamilton, a four-year starter who led the CCAA in assists and was a first team All-CCAA selection in 2012-13. Fogel said Hamilton will be the catalyst for the entire offense.

Joining Hamilton in the backcourt will be fellow senior guard Jazmine Miller, another first team All-CCAA selection who led the team in scoring at 12.8 points per game. Miller’s offense and ability to make things happen in the open court will be key for the Wildcats.

The leaders up front for Chico State will be senior forwards McKenzie Dalthorp and Analise Riezebos, the top two rebounders a year ago. Fogel said Dalthorp will give the team a physical presence under the net, while Riezebos will run the floor well and continue to be a strong rebounder.

While an actual lineup has not been made, Fogel said all four of these players will figure to be in the mix.

“With those four coming back, they all played significant roles last year,” Fogel said. “We look for them to do the same thing again this year.”

Joining these leaders are some new faces, including a trio of transfers. Michelle Walker, a junior transfer from Sierra Community College, will add versatility as an athletic post player that can run the floor well. Sarah Rebibo, a junior from Citrus Community College, will be slotted as Hamilton’s backup. And Jessica Palmer, recovering from two ACL tears, will have an impact on the team as well.

The new additions to the team have been meshing well with the veterans, Hamilton said.

“The team looks good. We have a lot of new people but they are developing well with the returners,” Hamilton said. “I think we are going to be great, we are just developing that chemistry first.”

Miller said the team could be even more athletic this year, with athletic returners combined with quick new players.

“This year we will be more athletic and we will definitely be faster,” Miller said. “We have post players that can really get down the floor and some incoming people that are quick too.”

The team will look to break into the open court, but their biggest challenge will be leading up to that. Fogel said that defending in the half court will be pivotal if the team wants to play fast and get fast break opportunities.

The Wildcats will face this challenge when they open the season Saturday, Nov. 2 at the University of San Francisco. The first CCAA matchup will be against Cal State Stanislaus Nov. 26.

Fogel said the league will be tough from top to bottom, but reiterated the goal of another championship. He said as long as the team is prepared for every game, they will have a good opportunity to do it again.

“We can’t rely on being a team one day and not being a team the next,” Miller said. “Every game is the biggest game of the season.”

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