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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Women’s basketball expects ‘magical season’

A buzzer sounds, and for the next few minutes the court is enveloped in sound: at least four basketballs bouncing off the floor; a coach bellowing, “There’s no standing;” and 12 pairs of sneakers hitting the court as the players do a shooting exercise.

The Ken Stanley court in the South Gym comes alive every night as the women’s basketball team practices for their season, which begins Sunday with a game in Occidental College.

“This is probably one of the better teams we’ve had at Pierce,” head coach Jim Couch said. “It’s a collection of talent. We have quality sophomores back and some very good freshmen.”

Even defense, which Couch says has been a weak point with the team in past seasons, is looking better this season.

“We’re definitely shooting for a conference title,” Couch said. “Second level would be making playoffs.”

Another reason for the team’s expected success this season is the effect of strong recruitment to the size of the team, according to assistant coach Bell Jordan.

“It’s a well-rounded squad,” Jordan said. “We have girls in all positions.”

The sizable number of girls on the team also plays an important role with competition, according to Joy Hubbard, sophomore forward.

“There’s a lot of internal and external competition,” Hubbard said. “We push each other to play our best because everyone wants a spot.”

Commitment also plays a role in the strength of the team.

“They have the will to even fund raise,” Hubbard said. “The girls are really eager to do more and to get things done.”

This is a welcome change from the state at which the team ended its last season—with only a handful of players due to lack of commitment, she said.

The players also find motivation from other Pierce athletic teams, like women’s volleyball.

“We see what they have and we want it,” Hubbard said. “A winning streak, that’s what we’re pushing for.”

Players to look out for this semester include Nichelae Henderson, a guard who was an all-California Interscholastic Federation player from Cleveland High School, and forward Gasia Sarkis, who Couch says “might be the leading scorer this year.”

The team hasn’t been impervious to the toll Pierce has taken on due to fiscal issues to the college district.

Cuts to Pierce’s athletic program have forced its players to find their own means of raising funds. Because of that, players have had to increase their fundraising efforts.

The players will also not be able to stay in hotels during away games, according to sophomore guard Monica Jackson.

Additionally, because courses are scarce these days compared to previous years, Couch has had to allow students to take up classes that coincide with practice hours.

“I have to let them [miss practice] for units. That’s why we also practice on Sundays,” Couch said. “But games will take precedent.”

Still, Couch has high hopes for the season.

“One word to describe the team is ‘magic,’” he said. “I think it’s going to be a magical season.”

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