The Sierra College women’s basketball team, a member of the Big 8 Conference, is one of California’s premier programs. Since 1992, more than 50 players have moved on to four-year colleges. During that time, the Wolverines won the 1999 state championship, finished second in the state (2007), fourth in the state (2005), and have captured eight conference titles.
The Big 8 Conference is arguably the toughest conference in not only the North, but the entire state. Consistently teams from the Big 8 go on to represent the best of the best in the State playoffs. Student-athletes that are a part of the conference have the advantage of moving on based on the night in and night out competition that they compete against.
Coach: Brandie Murrish, 9th season (187-76)
2014 postseason: lost Elite Eight game at San Joaquin Delta College (82-71)
2013-2014: 23-9 overall, 10-4 Big 8 (3rd place)
Personnel losses: Joie Camalo (12.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 SPG), Haleigh Lis (5.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG),
Ericka Magana (13.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.0 APG, 2.7 SPG), Christina Mandich (6.3PPG, 5.4 RPG),
Dakota McLarnan (10.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.7 APG. 1.6 SPG), Jasmine Shedrick (5.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG)
Returnees: Aliya Davis (4.8, 1.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG), Taylor Donnot (RS SO, 5-7, Del Oro), Liz Gehweiler (1.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG), Ashley Jenkins (7.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.2 SPG), Selena Lopez (2.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG)
Newcomers: Briana Goble (6-1, RS FR, Oroville), Amanda Kelley (5-5, Oroville), Raegan Lillie (5-9, Colfax), Aaliyah Monroe (5-10, McNair, Modesto Jr. College), Alexis Price (5-1, El Camino), Kaitlyn Reina (5-9, Bear River), Kynnidi Ricardo (5-3, Florin), Megan Roberson (6-4, Del Campo), Savannah Smith (5-7, Carson, NV), Celeste Vitolas (6-0, Oak Ridge)
Outlook: Start with a solid core of returning sophomores and a key JC transfer, and add a deep roster of highly recruited newcomers from area highs schools that include three players 6-1 or taller, a true D1 post player, a couple “beasts” and a force of nature. Mix that all together and you have the 2014-2015 Sierra College women’s basketball team. Entering her ninth season as Sierra’s head coach, Brandie Murrish has assembled her deepest squad, and in the Big 8 conference, it is depth – along with defense and rebounding – that wins league crowns. Murrish continues to mine the foothills for players who will fit into her fast-paced transition style of play. She wins with local players and as she nears 200 coaching victories, her recipe remains the same: create turnovers, rebound and score in transition. This will be a fun team to watch in a home court environment unrivaled in northern California.
An 82-71 loss to Big 8 rival San Joaquin Delta College in last year’s regional final in Stockton provides a gym-full of motivation for 2014-2015. While a visit to their second consecutive Elite Eight (and fifth Sweet Sixteen in six years) is an enviable achievement for most teams, Sierra’s goal is a return to the Final Four and a state title. This year’s team, like all that preceded them, will run and run and run some more. In order to run, the Wolverines must be active defensively, create turnovers, and get out on the break. Additionally, this year’s team will also be asked to rebound and finish as never before. Lost boards and missed layups have helped keep talented Sierra squads from reaching their first Final Four since 2007. Murrish has bulked up the front line and has a host of talented threes and fours. The team’s ability to execute their coach’s simple philosophy will be the difference between a deep run through March and a quality, yet unsatisfying, campaign.
Last year’s Wolverines were successful on the court and in the classroom. Five Sierra players are suiting up for four-year schools this year: Joie Camalo (Cal Maritime), Haleigh Lis (Cal Maritime), Ericka Magana (Sacramento St.), Dakota McLarnan (Fresno Pacific) and Jasmine Shedrick (Fresno Pacific). Replacing 48 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists per game is no easy task, but Murrish usually seems to find the perfect players for her system. This year’s combination of returners and newcomers, with their height and depth, should, once again, make the Wolverines Big 8 and NorCal title contenders.
Let’s fast break through the 2014-2015 Wolverines. First the returning players…Coach Murrish describes Aliya Davis as “business-like”; Sierra’s best outside shooter; has improved her outside shot and ball-handling; outstanding passer and defender; can bring the ball up, but will probably line up as the two; team captain; competitive and hates to lose… Taylor Donnot is the engine that drives the Wolverines; “a beast” according to Murrish; similar to Charles Barkley: not the tallest player on the court, but is always in the play; the strongest, hardest-working Wolverine; good in the open court with an improved outside shot; will be relied upon for “big boards” in every game; good vision and usually looks to pass first; 3.4 GPA; has fully recovered from two major knee injuries that kept her on the sidelines the last two years… Liz Gehweiler is a great athlete who is one of the smartest players on the court; good in the open court; fast with good hands; outstanding on-ball defender who will be a key to press and transition success; is an offensive threat in the open court and driving to the hoop; her outside shot is key to Sierra offense… Ashley Jenkins may be Sierra’s best returning player; Murrish says “she can shoot, drive, pass and defend”; will spend the majority of her time at the point but will see time at the two; tenacious defender; relentless competitor…Selena Lopez was playing her best basketball last year when she was injured in the playoffs; has fully recovered from ankle injury; very strong and can guard bigger players; is a “beast in the paint” who will be counted to provide big rebounds whenever she’s in; has deceptive offensive skills and can put the ball back in off the offensive boards.
One of ten new Wolverines, the most ever on a Murrish squad, Bri Goble may be the most anxious to see court time; a knee injury kept her out of the lineup in 2013-2014; a big, strong post presence; a solid rebounder; a good outside shooter, but is best roaming the paint; knows the Murrish system; a gym rat… Amanda Kelley, like Goble, is from a good Oroville program; has a “nice outside shot”; will be counted on to score when she’s in the game… Raegan Lillie may be the first Wolverine off the bench; a great athlete; runs the floor extremely well; good rebounder; solid fundamentally in all aspects of the game; Murrish says “we’re better when she’s on the floor”…Aaliyah Monroe is an athletic transfer from Modesto Jr. College; considered a tweener who can play in the backcourt or inside; very strong and physical; a good driver; “we’re happy to have her and she’s happy to be here”… Alexis Price will change the tempo whenever she’s in; very quick; good hands; good on-ball defender who will be an important part of the Sierra press; will back up the point; good outside shooter; fundamentally sound… Kaitlyn Reina, along with Taylor Donnot, is the team’s “bad ass”; perfect for the Murrish system as she can run the open court, is a great rebounder, a solid defender and is good, offensively, both inside and out; MVP of the Pioneer Valley League; a force of nature… Kynnidi Ricardo will provide depth at the point; a quick defender; can distribute the ball well; has a good outside shot; good on the press and with the transition game… Megan Roberson, at 6-4, is the tallest player Murrish has had and will usually be the tallest player on the court; will be responsible for “owning the paint”; can be an authoritative presence; can change opponent’s shots through mere presence; a true D1 post player; signed with Loyola Marymount…Savannah Smith is a bundle of enthusiasm; fundamentally sound; played for former Wolverine Sara Rooker at Carson (NV) High School; can shoot the three; good on the boards…Celeste Vitolas comes from a superior Oak Ridge program; soft hands; is hard to box out; a “fundamental post player”; can team with Roberson and Reina for an imposing front line.
Coaching staff: Sierra’s coaching continuity continues as assistants Christina Day, Diane Looker and Scott Pisik join Murrish for the fourth straight year.
Day was one of the most-decorated players in Wolverine history as an All-State player and conference MVP from 2003-2005. She coaches as she played: 110 MPH with the ability to make those around her better.
Looker has been with Murrish since 2006. A former head coach at Mt. San Antonio College, Looker has been at Sierra since 1997 and was on Roz Goldenberg’s 1999 state championship-winning staff. A superior strategist and communicator.
Pisik has been with Murrish from the start. Although he took a year off to become the head women’s coach at William Jessup, Pisik’s blood runs Cardinal and White. One of the game’s great teachers, Pisik provides constant constructive criticism and positive reinforcement.
Note: Sierra season outlook and report opinions expressed are those of Matt Folsom, Director of Sports Information Services, and are intended for fan education and game enhancement only.
Former Wolverine standout, Michelle Walker (Colfax H.S.) joined California State University, Chico in the Fall of 2013.
Three point specialist from the 2013 sophomore class, Kirstie Williams (Bella Vista H.S.) is now playing for University Hawaii, Hilo.
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Day was one of the most-decorated players in Wolverine history as an All-State player and conference MVP from 2003-2005. She coaches as she... More