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IVC looking to take next step

November 10, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

It was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, turnaround in the history of Imperial Valley College athletics.

After a one-win season in 1999-2000, the IVC women's basketball team finished 18-13 overall last year and 4-6 in the Pacific Coast Conference.

The reversal was amazing, but there was some disappointment at the end of the year as the Arabs failed to make the post-season.

This year, though, that disappointment is what could fuel a post-season run.

"This year we're pushing for the next level. We gotta go that extra step," said returning point guard 5-foot-4 LaToya Jackson of Miami, Fla. "I think this year our team is faster, quicker and just a better team than we were last year. This year it's not like we want to win. It's more like we have to win. And I think that we are going to win conference."


If there is a time for IVC to make a run at a PCC title it would most certainly be this year. Including Jackson, the Arabs return four starters from last year.

Returning starters include 6-foot forward/guard Sandra Ramos of Monterrey, Mexico; 6-foot-2 center Jello Moore of Sunrise, Fla., and 5-foot-6 guard Jenny Burgos of Calexico.

The only void IVC must fill is that of Jessica Prock. Prock's shoes will be hard to fill as she was one of the team's leading scorers and rebounders, but it is something coach Jill Tucker feels will work out.

"Jessica was one of our best outside shooters, but we're going to have Sandra step up and shoot more," said Tucker.

While Ramos will step in as the team's outside big gun, taking Prock's position will be freshman Marquita Travis of Brawley. At Brawley, the 5-foot-9 Travis was an all-league forward and center and helped the Wildcats to four league championships.

"I'm really excited about this season. The team's looking real good right now and we're all just ready to go," said Travis. "We have a good all-around team and I don't think there's many weaknesses. With the team we have, I think we have a really good chance of winning conference and going to state."

In order for the team to be successful and contend for the conference title, Travis knows there will be added pressure on herself. She is the only starting freshman and she will be playing the power forward position, which is typically ruled by bigger, more physical players.

"I think it will be difficult for me, size-wise, but what I know and what the coaches have been telling me, is that I'll be faster than most of the players I'm going up against," said Moore. "I know I'm smaller than most (power forwards), but I've been working out trying to get stronger. I've been working out a lot against Jello, and just practicing against her has really made me a better player."

Contributing off the bench for the Arabs will be forwards Christina Ruiz of Holtville, Gloriastine Conner of Heber and Melissa Williams of Calexico and guards Juanita Hill of Calipatria, Dora Nava-Esparza of Heber and Marta CedeƱo of Miami, Fla.

"I think this year, we have more depth on the bench. We have players on the bench that can come in and contribute," said Tucker. "We also have more speed and just more weapons.

"This year will be tougher because we have a tougher schedule and we don't have the element of surprise we had last year, but we do have a good all-around team."

IVC kicks off its season at 7 p.m. Tuesday as it hosts the nation's No. 2 ranked junior college team Arizona Western.

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