College basketball: Step-up time for YVCC women

March 3, 2012 by  

YAKIMA, Wash. — Last year, the run made by Yakima Valley’s women to the NWAACC championship was an experience never to be forgotten.

For both good and bad reasons.

Because as euphoric as a championship can be, the feeling pales in comparison to the grief that accompanies the death of a teammate, which the Yaks had experienced eight days before winning the title.

Now, in another season and with another team, YVCC prepares to defend its championship with questions other than how the players might react to the auto crash death of Hannah Cordova.

And when the fifth-ranked Yaks begin play at 10 a.m. today against Clark, a key will be who will step up in support of leading scorers Simone Jordan and Brittney Newcomb.

“I think we’ve established who our best scorers are, that they are capable of scoring and that our other girls are looking to them to score,” coach Cody Butler said. “Now we need to have some other girls step up. And we have players who are capable.”

Jordan, an athletic 5-foot-9 sophomore who was initially recruited by Gonzaga out of Portland’s Jefferson High School, is averaging 15.9 points a game. Newcomb, a 5-7 sharpshooting guard who was a mainstay on last year’s team, comes in at 15.29.

Others including Kaylah Gonzales, Hannah Lekson, Jaimi Cox, Sam Zapien and Ashley Swetzof have had big scoring games during the season.

“Kaylah has made a lot of big shots and big plays down the stretch for us,” Butler said of the 5-7 freshman from East Valley. “She has that ability, and she’s not afraid to take big shots when we need them. Now we need her to no wait until the end of games to assert herself.”

Yakima Valley (20-7), which has reached the tournament in each of Butler’s nine seasons as coach and has played in each of the past two title games, goes in this year as the East Region’s third seed. Unranked Clark (20-6) is No. 2 from the West, and also claimed an 83-75 victory over YVCC on Dec. 3 in Sherar Gym.

And that was when the Yaks still had the services of high-scoring Brandi Henton, who averaged 24.6 points through nine games before sustaining a season-ending knee injury.

Deborah Simmers, averaging 17.6 points, scored 24 for the Penguins on that occasion while Chelsea Dyson had 23. Both are sophomore guards.

Dyson is also among the NWAACC leaders in steals and assists.

“We’ve had some ups and downs, but we’ve gotten better and I like the way we’ve been playing,” Butler said. “Even our loss to Walla Walla (last Saturday), that wasn’t that bad. Walla Walla’s one of the best teams in the NWAACC.”

The 16-team, double-elimination event concludes Tuesday.

Filed under All, YVCC Basketball (W)

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