The College of the Canyons women’s basketball opens the 2016-17 on the road this weekend with the Lady Cougars set to compete at the 2016 Linda G. Smith Memorial Tip-Off Classic hosted by Mt. SAC Nov. 4-6.
The Lady Cougars will square off against Saddleback College at 5 p.m. on Friday, before continuing in the tournament bracket through the weekend.
Canyons begins its campaign as the No. 12 ranked team in the California Community College Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (CCCWBCA) regional preseason poll.
Also competing at the event are Citrus College, Rio Hondo College, College of the Desert, No. 14 San Bernardino Valley College, No. 6 Long Beach City College, and host No. 1 Mt. SAC. A full tournament bracket can be found here.
COC is one year removed from winning the program’s 15th Western State Conference (WSC), South division championship after posting a 23-6 overall record and a 13-1 conference mark under head coach Greg Herrick. In all, five players from last year’s squad were honored with All-WSC selections, including returning sophomore point guard Marina Rojas.
Rojas started all 29 games for the Lady Cougars in 2015-16 while averaging 7.6 points and a team-high 4.9 assists per game as a freshman.
Fellow All-WSC First Team selection Ciera O’Brien was also expected to be a major contributor this season before suffering a season-ending knee injury earlier this fall. With O’Brien’s absence, sophomore forward Tasi Ramon is the only other returning player on Coach Herrick’s squad.
As such, Herrick will look to the team’s stable of 10 freshmen to provide contributions.
Guards Alexis Corona, Gissel Sanchez, Dayna Tanaka, Tiffany Olega, Judy Couja, Morgan Bizzell, Crystal Oribio and Sabrina Hart will provide Herrick with a variety of backcourt options.
Meanwhile, forwards Jerica Washington and Sepiuta Aliki will be tasked with replacing the steady presence of post-players Monica Friedl and Hannah Green, who both left the program after transferring to four-year schools.
Friedl, a two-time All-WSC First Team selection, is now playing at California State University, San Marcos. Green, the 2016 WSC Player of the Year and a CCCAA South Region All-State Team honoree, is continuing her playing career at Illinois State University.
After this weekend, Canyons will have three weeks off before playing in the Ventura College-Kiwanas Tournament of Champions Nov. 26-27.
The Lady Cougars are scheduled to play their first home game on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017.
—Story and photo by Jesse Munoz/COC Sports Information Office.
The College of the Canyons men’s basketball team gets its 2016-17 season underway this weekend, as the Cougars host the Ninth Annual ‘Clash at Canyons’ Tournament Nov. 4-5, at the Cougar Cage.
Action will begin at 12 p.m. Friday with a matchup between East Los Angeles College (ELAC) and Oxnard College.
Canyons and Glendale College will then take the court for a 2 p.m. tipoff.
Games will continue on Saturday, with contests scheduled for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
ELAC begins the season as the No. 8 ranked team in the California Community College Men’s Basketball Coaches Association (CCCMBCA) statewide poll and the No. 3 ranked team in Southern California. Glendale is ranked No. 11 in the region, while Canyons and Oxnard start the season unranked.
The COC men’s basketball program enters Friday’s season opener looking to rebound after a 2015-16 campaign that was marred by a barrage of unfortunate injuries, forcing the Cougars to play shorthanded through the majority of the schedule. As a result, the Cougars finished with a 5-21 record to finish last in the Western State Conference (WSC), South Division.
Four players from last year’s squad return, including sophomore guard Alex Sanchez, who averaged 9.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game as a freshman. His 31.7 minutes per game were tied for the team lead.
Centers David Gibbs and Austin Greenly also return for COC head coach Howard Fisher, while sophomore guard Garrett Mike rejoins the program after last playing during the 2014-15 season.
Also returning to action will be redshirt freshman forward Jason Horosny, who played in just three games before suffering a season-ending injury last November. Horosny is expected to provide the Cougars with a big offensive boost after averaging 15.3 points and 5.7 rebounds, while shooting 69.2 percent from the field, in his three outings.
Newcomers for COC include freshman guards Michael Kalu, Jacob Lilley, Matthew Flores and Garrett Harding and sophomore forward Chris Collins, who played last season at The Master’s College (now The Master’s University).
The Cougars also welcome 6-foot-8-inch freshman center Henry Flanagan from St. Peter’s Public School in Sydney, Australia.
With the influx of youth and a mix of experienced sophomores Canyons is expected to improve on last year’s results, despite having to navigate a tough schedule of opponents.
Five of COC’s scheduled opponents are currently ranked top-25 in the state (No. 2 Saddleback College, No. 8 ELAC, No. 10 El Camino-Compton, No. 11 Antelope Valley College, and No. 14 Ohlone College).
“We have high expectations,” Fisher told a COC Cougar News reporter. “It’s going to be a long process learning how to compete everyday … learning how to compete at this level.”
After this weekend’s ‘Clash at Canyons’ the Cougars will compete at the Jonathan Wallace Memorial Basketball Tournament hosted by Ohlone College, Nov. 11-13 in Fremont.
COC will next play on its home court at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, in a matchup vs. Antelope Valley College.
—Story and photo by Jesse Munoz/COC Sports Information
—Video courtesy of COC Cougar News/SCVTV