It’s not about how you start; it’s how you finish that matters.
That old cliche rang true for the City College women’s basketball team during its last handful of games. The Panthers suffered three losses in a row to start the 2017 season, which began Nov. 3, but responded with back-to-back wins and a consolation championship at the Sasha Brown Classic Nov. 17–19 at Sierra College.
The Panthers lost their Nov. 17 opening round game at Sierra against San Francisco City College 62-43. In the second round on Nov. 18 against Butte College, the Panthers were able to turn it around with a 64-52 win. Despite a scoreless third quarter against Butte, City bounced back to score 29 fourth-quarter points to come out victorious. City followed up Nov. 19 with a 65-55 win over Redwoods College in the consolation game.
Freshman point guard Brandy Huffhines played a major role in helping the team revamp its performance through the team’s first five games over the last month. Huffhines averaged 21 points per game in the season’s first two games at the Nov. 3–4 Jocelyn Mancebo Tournament in Stockton, and says there’s a strong dynamic on the court.
“It’s a brand new team,” said Huffhines. “The chemistry is slowly evolving, but game by game, it’s improving. Everybody gets along with everyone. We all gel very well. It’s all about using that chemistry on and off the court.”
There’s a familiar face on the sidelines — head coach Julia Allender returned for her fourth season. Allender made immediate adjustments between her first year and her second, improving the Panthers’ overall record from 5-21 in 2014-15 to 22-9 in 2015-16. The 17-game improvement earned the team its first postseason berth since 2007.
Allender brings a consistent routine to the team.With nine freshmen and only three sophomores on the squad, City College is learning to build confidence and skills as a young team.
“I have a certain culture in the programs I create and build,” said Allender. “I took that first year and really laid that culture down in terms of accountability, professionalism, coachability, persistence, perseverance and just high achievers. That is what I try to build my program around and get these players to demonstrate.”
Her strategy seems to be working. Five games into the season, the Panthers have steadily improved their ball movement, as well as tiring out opponents’ defenses. City plans to utilize its new skills when the team plays Modesto Junior College Dec. 21 at home, in the first Big 8 Conference game of the season.
“Conference for us is always the biggest thing,” said Allender. “We play in the toughest conference in the state. Everything we’re doing right now is to prepare to go and win a conference championship.”
Huffhines leads the team in scoring (19 points per game) and assists (4.3 APG). Freshman Maddison Coleman is averaging over 10 points, Kayla Farr is the team leader with over nine rebounds per contest.
The Panthers (2-3) will face Antelope Valley College at College of the Sequoias to kick off the Tom Gilcrest Invitational Nov. 30.
For more information about SCC women’s basketball, visit sccpanthers.losrios.edu/sports/wbkb.