Things sure look a lot different in the Central Valley Conference women’s basketball title race this year.
For the past nine seasons, Fresno City College coach Brian Tessler has dominated the conference, winning the past seven titles with the Rams and the two prior to that with Reedley College.
But that run looks like it’s coming to an end.
State No. 2-ranked College of the Sequoias (25-3, 10-0) needs one win to clinch the Central Valley Conference title outright for the first time since 1994-95. That could happen if the Giants win Saturday at No.-ranked 16 Fresno City (19-8, 7-2) or a with a win or Rams loss Wednesday.
Fifth-year Giants coach Ray Alvarado says his players are united as the regular season nears its finish.
“It’s a collection of individuals that came together and believed in our vision,” Alvarado said. “Timing is everything. One of our goals is to win conference.”
Tessler said winning conference championships is nice but the league season is also about gearing up for the state tournament, which begins in two weeks. He has led teams to the state tournament in eight of the past 11 seasons.
“It’s been a long time,” Tessler said of his teams’ conference run. “The last time we didn’t win it, we finished second and ended up in the state tournament. There’s a bright side. As far as how we are, I knew we would struggle early on. The ideal is to play your best basketball towards the end of the season.
That’s also the goal for Alvarado and the Giants, who finished 23-7 last season and in second place in the CVC.
“I have the utmost respect for all of Fresno City athletes and staff,” said Alvarado, who coached the Rams for two seasons before Tessler took over in 2007-08. “We want to go out there and work hard. They’re going to go out and try to defend their home court.”
Sophomore guard Corissa Turley leads the charge for the Giants, averaging 14.4 points per game. Other key contributors include Alexandria Tobie (12.4), Hannah Ramirez (10.5) and Tiana Henry (4.5). Vanessa Mancera (9.4) returned after missing most of last season with a knee injury. COS also welcomed back Priscilla Wright (knee) and Latique Walton (personal reasons) after each missed last season. Both are averaging 6.2 points per game.
“For us, it was just a process,” Alvarado said. “We knew that we had a collection of individuals that if they could come together that they were going to be a special group. They all did certain things well, and we knew that if they would stay together they were going to do well. One of our goals was to find out how far we can go, and we set the highest goal since they last won the state title in 1987. We set some far-reaching goals, and we have a long way to go.”