First, she was an original member of the Fresno City College women’s basketball Hall of Fame. Now the California Community College Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall came calling.
Lena Gipson, also a former Memorial High standout, was inducted Thursday into the state Hall during a ceremony in Livermore. It’s a first for the Rams’ women’s program.
I feel blessed and honored to be chosen for this honor.
Former Fresno City College standout Lena Gipson on getting inducted into the CCCWBCA Hall of Fame
“Oh wow,” Gipson said. “That’s huge and exciting. I feel blessed and honored to be chosen for this honor. I didn’t expect it honestly.”
Gipson’s Rams went a school-best 35-3 and reached the state final four in 2007-08 as she came back from tearing an ACL in high school. She averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds, shot 64.2 percent, and earned All-America, All-NorCal and Central Valley Conference MVP honors.
“I consider Lena Gipson to be one of the most dominant players in the Central Valley Conference over the last 20 years,” said Rams coach Brian Tessler, who nominated Gipson. “Her Fresno City College team won by an average of 45 points in conference play, therefore her numbers don’t tell the entire story of just how good she was.”
In 2016, Gipson was inducted into the inaugural Fresno City women’s basketball Hall of Fame.
It did not come easily for Gipson, whose ACL never fully recovered. The ligament eventually was removed before she attempted to launch her college career at Arizona State. The Sun Devils told Gipson she never would be medically cleared to play, but would honor her scholarship.
Gipson instead enrolled at Fresno City, where fitted with a brace she was able to turn in a string of memorable performances. In one conference game, Gipson had 42 points and 29 rebounds – a school record that still stands.
After the one season with the Rams, she transferred to Santa Clara and averaged 13.2 points and 10.3 rebounds – fininshing No. 2 on the career list there in rebounding (962).
Gipson resides in Santa Clara, working as a behavioral therapist.
“Coach Tessler was instrumental,” she said. “Very critical time in my basketball career and he took a huge risk allowing me to come after I was medically cleared. He accepted me to his team and had faith and confidence. He never took it easy on me.”
STATE ELITE EIGHT
COLLEGE OF THE SEQUOIAS VS. PALOMAR
- Friday: 5 p.m. at Las Positas College in Livermore
- Of note: North top-seeded Giants advanced through regional by defeating No. 15 Sacramento City 77-44 and No. 10 American River 83-43. … COS’ last state appearance was 1995. The Giants were state runners-up in 1992 and champions in 1987. … Palomar is the fourth seed out of the North.
- He said it: “What helped us was our team from 2015 which also did extremely well. This group admired what they accomplished and wanted to continue that” – Giants coach Ray Alvarado
- The rest of the schedule: South No. 1 Mt. San Antonio (30-2) vs. North No. 4 Foothill (23-8), 1 p.m. … South No. 2 East Los Angeles (28-2) vs. North No. 3 Siskiyous (29-1), 3 p.m. … North No. 2 San Francisco (27-3) vs. South No. 3 Ventura (27-5), 7 p.m.