Comets bounced from Costa Classic

Successive losses forces hosts to exit women’s basketball tournament

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

The women’s basketball team is off to a rough start this season. The team came into the 21st Annual Costa Classic carrying a lackluster 1-4 overall record prepared to face off against Fresno City College (5-1 overall) in its first game of the tournament.

The Comets struck first but found themselves frequently out of position on defense. Players were more apt to swipe at passing offensive players rather than move their feet to recover defensively, or to stop the ball when opposing guards were out on the break.

In the end, the squad dropped the contest 93-79.

The Rams inside-out chemistry between a space eating forward and a guard who never saw a shot she didn’t like, put the freshman heavy 8-player CCC squad in foul trouble quickly in the contest.

Earlier in the day before teams began arriving to the campus, the CCC guards were contemplating how they would deal with the Rams press-heavy style of defense. The players were aware of the impending pressure, but when faced with the task of advancing the ball between strategically placed bodies and waving arms their efforts were null and the Rams slowly extended its lead throughout the game.

The squad kept it close early, trailing by only three, 18-15 with 16 minutes remaining in the first half. Reaching fouls put FCC in the bonus early and without Jacqie Moody in the post to keep defenders from stepping out too confidently on shooters Ahjahna Coleman and Carol Oldan, Fresno began to make a concerted push.

The Rams gained confidence with every shot. What was a 3-point lead five minutes earlier quickly grew into 17 points as CCC had no answer for the Rams long range shooting.

Oldan made her presence known throughout the game with timely shooting and drives that kept the Comets in the contest, but lack of defensive pressure kept the team from cutting into the Ram lead.

In CCC’s second match of the tournament, the team squared off against Lassen College (5-4 overall). Both teams needed the win to remain in the double elimination tournament as both schools lost their first round games.

Lassen lost in the first round to Mission College 74-60.

The game was a closely contested match-up with both teams making early runs in attempts at imposing its dominance on the other team.

Sophomore guard Coleman took matters into her own hands as she was the most dominant player on the court for either team. Her timely drive and dish plays or flashy dribble penetration layups forced Cougar defenders to collapse on her allowing Coleman, Christina Onwuawozee and Briah Davis extra space to try to establish a substantial low post presence.

“We played hard in the first game but in the second (game) we didn’t play up to our full potential,” Coleman said.

The Comets had a plausible recipe for victory coming into the contest — hold Lassen to under 70 points, commit fewer than 15 turnovers and control the tempo of the game.

Oldan started hot from the previous night, as the CCC penetration allowed them to take a 21-20 advantage early on. The Comets were more athletic in the back court and front court. For the Cougars, it was CCC’s defensive mental lapses that kept them in the game.

“We were working collectively as a team to get points in the first game,” Davis said. “In the second game we were so ready to play that we seemed nervous.”

In the second half, with foul trouble and turnovers momentarily in check, CCC remained close trailing by only two with 17:31 remaining in the game.

Comet coach Paul DeBolt made strategic substitutions to find the right mix of offense and defense that might keep the Cougar freshman center from camping in the paint and limiting CCC offensive possessions by dominating the boards.

Lassen beat the Comets 72-63 earning them an early elimination from the Comet Classic.

“We were tired in the second game,” DeBolt said. “We’re not in good game condition yet. Nobody blows us out, they just beat us.”

The four-day, 16-team tournament featured a number of schools from across the state. In the end it was Diablo Valley College that took first place, beating Laney College 78-56 Sunday in the Gymnasium.