Chaffey College womens basketball coach Gary Plunkett thought he had a talented crop of freshmen coming in, so he thought this years version of the Panthers would be able to pick right up where last years left off. So far that has been the case.
The Panthers (13-3) head into the heart of the Foothill Conference schedule as one of the favorites, along with Mt. San Jacinto and San Bernardino Valley College.
Chaffey has competed in four tournaments, winning one, finishing second once and winning the consolation bracket twice. The Panthers are ranked 15th in the state and ninth in the South.
I had high hopes and so far they have been fulfilled, Plunkett said. I felt like we had some really skilled players coming in, especially at the perimeter. They have been able to adapt quickly so I am very pleased.
The veteran is sophomore guard Christina Warren (15.9 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, 2 assists per game, 1.5 steals per game), who has earned all-tournament honors in three of Chaffeys four events and is a returning all-conference selection.
But the core of newcomers that Plunkett is excited about is led by freshmen guards Keisha Mackall (Miller HS) and Tamesha Jackson (Upland HS). Mackall (12.3 ppg, 4 apg, 2.8 spg) has also earned three all-tournament nods, including an MVP selection at Irvine Valley. Jackson (11.9 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.4 rpg), third on the team in scoring, was a coveted recruit also sought after by local rivals Citrus and Mt. San Antonio College.
Tamesha is the better athlete. She has got that quick first step, Plunkett said. Keisha has that court savvy and more big-game experience having played for a CIF championship.
While that trio has provided the scoring punch, Plunkett has also gotten productivity in the paint from the other two starters freshmen Johnshunay Parsons (7.6 rpg) and Aundria Anderson (7.6 rpg, 9.2 ppg).
The Panthers return to the court at 1 p.m. Saturday with a road game at Victor Valley. The next home game will be Jan. 5 against Barstow. While Plunkett was quick in pointing out the three frontrunners, he added that Antelope Valley and Rio Hondo could also be a factor.
We have to see how it all plays out, but there should be some great games, he said.