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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Lady Monarchs prepare to defend their first title in a decade

By Romeo Gonzalez, Sports Editor

Last season the Valley College women’s basketball team won its first championship in 10 years but lost its two leading players.

According to coach Monica Hang, this year’s team might not have a superstar, but the talent runs deep.

“I want more; I want another title this year,” said Hang. “I want to go further in the playoffs.”

Last year sophomores: Ani Avanessian, who averaged 16.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. She was recognized as division player of the year and first team all state. Guard Lydia Pope averaged 8.7 points and 3.1 assists per contest and was an all-conference South Division selection.

“Ani is rare; she is one of a kind. It’s hard to compare anyone to her,” said Hang of trying to replace her star from last year. “Just everything about her, her attitude, her work ethic, her confidence, her demeanor, it’s hard to replace.

Before last season, the Monarchs had fallen short from making it to the playoffs or winning a championship by one game for two consecutive years.

“We were always one shy of making the post season, one shy of being the conference champs,” said Hang. “They take 18 teams to playoffs we were 19th both years.”

The team is rebuilding this year with Kaila Turner, Chelsea Rhamdeow , Bobbie Morgutie and Jecenia Trinidad as the only returning players,

“So far I see, because we’re all so talented, we are learning how to work with one another and use those talents in different ways,” Turner said in an article in The San Fernando Valley Sun. “It is a new group, but there remains some [returning] sophomores who can help out the new people to know what Coach wants.”

According to Hang, she has yet to make a decision on who will be her starting five, but one thing she does know is it will not be the best five individuals; it will be the best five who work together as a team on the court.

This year, there are 11 sophomores, and Hang said, he has more depth in this team than she has had in her nine years of coaching.

Last season, the Lady Monarchs had an eight-man rotation. According to Hang, with the amount of players she has on the team this year, she could be looking at an 12 to 13 man rotation.

“My second five can be as good as my first five,” she said. “This is the most talented, athletic team the we have had.”

Valley College will have its first preseason game on Nov.8 in the Mt. SAC Tip Off Tournament against Laney College at 5 p.m.

“I feel that we are going to be one of the top teams to beat,” said Hang. “If we do the right things we should be in the competition for another title.”

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