By Michelle Gardner
SAN BERNARDINO When Sue Crebbin stepped into the womens basketball job at San Bernardino Valley College three years ago she inherited a team that won two games at a school lacking the resources of many of its rivals. There did’t seem to be any indicators that the program could reach the lofty status of it mens counterpart.
But it is Crebbins Wolverines (26-5) preparing for a playoff run which begins Friday with a 7 p.m. game at Snyder
Gymnasium against Fullerton College (20-13), the same team that eliminated it from the playoffs last year.
Should the No. 7 seeded Wolverines get by this one, defending state champion Mt. SAC (32-1) would likely be next. Not even that fazes the veteran team.
If youre going to win it all, you have to beat them all. It doesnt matter when you play them, said Crebbin, who came to the school after coaching stints at Yuba College and American River, both in the northern part of the state. This team would rather play the better teams. They get bored when theyre not playing good teams.
The program has progressed each year. In Crebbins first season the team doubled its win total to four, even though she got the job late in the summer and had no chance to recruit. The positive sign was that three of those wins came in the last four games.
Last season proved to be the breakout year. The Wolverines went 20-10, finishing a respectable third in the Foothill Conference. It served notice by upstaging Orange Coast in the first round of the playoffs for the first postseason win in school history.
That showing and the fact the core of the team returned this season meant higher expectations. Again the Wolverines rose to the occasion, this time winning the conference for the schools third title but the first since 2001.
A win tonight over the No. 10 seeded Hornets would set a school record for wins and stretch the teams winning streak to 16 games, also a record. Crebbin, selected conference coach of the year by her peers, said the character of her players has been a big factor.
Its easy for kids to go to an established program and jump on board, she said. But its more rewarding to go to a school where you can make a difference and be a part of the building process. The fact that these girls came here says a lot about them as individuals.
Team chemistry is another intangible that has been pivotal. Crebbin has 10 players, six of them sophomores. The players spend considerable time together off the court as well, using their bye week to go bowling.
Sophomore Sylvia Roland graduated from Rialto High School and originally went to Division II New Mexico Highlands to compete in track. She didnt like it there and transferred to SBVC after talking with former teammate JaNae Westmoreland who played at SBVC the previous two seasons.
Everyone wants to go away. But I got there and didnt like it, she said. Here were like a family. Everyone gets along. Now I wish I would have come here first.
While Crebbin and assistant Julia Smith have put in countless hours attending games at area high schools, word of mouth has also landed them quality players. Sophomore Simeone Baker came to SBVC two years ago because Elizabeth Luke, a former teammate at Twentynine Palms, was playing volleyball for the Wolverines.
Baker looked into the school because of Luke, then found out about its strong nursing program and was sold.
The Wolverines, ranked No. 10 in the state and fifth in Southern California, graduated their two solid post players so this years squad has relied on athleticism and a tenacious defense.
The team is balanced with sophomore guard Shy Walter (12 ppg, 4.5 rpg) followed closely by sophomore point guard Jasmine Mashall (10.1 ppg, 4.1 rg, 4.7 spg, 4.3 apg). Those two were first-team all-conference selections along with Baker (8.7 ppg, 7 rpg), whom Crebbin singles out at the most consistent player on the squad.
They are joined in the starting lineup by Roland (7.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and sophomore forward Ronisha Edwards (9.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg) with sophomore guard LaQuita Jordan (9.3 ppg, 2.2 spg, 2.3 apg), the spark plug off the bench.
Showings against common opponents favor the Wolverines as SBVC has beaten three opponents to whom the Hornets have lost. Both teams have common losses to Mt. SAC and Pasadena with those by the Wolverines coming by smaller margins.
The Hornets have five sophomores, with two of those – Jessica Duran (11.2 ppg, 5 rpg) and Amy Richard (11.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg) – the teams top scorers. At 5-11 and 6-1 their height will pose a problem for the smaller but quicker Wolverines.
Were happy about getting the chance to redeem ourselves, Baker said. Its always nice to get to knock out the team that knocked you out last time.