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IVC women seeking PCC crown

January 18, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

For 10 months there's been a feeling simmering in the stomachs of the Imperial Valley College women's basketball team.

It is a feeling that's made their stomachs turn, a feeling of disappointment, accompanied with thoughts of, "What if?"

It hasn't been a pleasant feeling. It has been flat out bothersome. But it's a feeling that has helped the team get a little hungrier and a feeling the team is looking to do away with this year.

For IVC to rid itself of that feeling, it must complete the mission it set out upon last year. It must go into tonight's Pacific Coast Conference opener at San Diego Mesa College, take care of business and continue to take care of business until the season ends, whether that is in the conference finale against Southwestern College or sometime after that.

Right now the only thing on the team's mind is the task at hand in San Diego Mesa. But in the big scheme of things, winning a PCC title is the main goal.

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While a conference championship is what the Arabs are shooting for, every person on the team, starting with head coach Jill Tucker, knows how difficult it will be.

"This conference is always tough. It can come down to anybody on any given day," said Tucker. "It'll be tough to finish in the top four, but I definitely believe we have the team to take first place."

Last year IVC finished fourth in the PCC with a 5-5 record. But things were a little different last year. After coming off a one-win season in which the Arabs really didn't have much to play for late in the season, the team was exploring new territory throughout the PCC season.

"Last year we went into conference kind of blind. We really didn't know what to expect," said Tucker. "But this year, with the experience we've gained, not just from last year but also from our preseason schedule being a lot tougher, we should be able to do a lot better. In those preseason games we learned that we can play some of the top teams around and play good games."

A year ago IVC got out to a quick start in the PCC, jumping to a 3-1 record. But just as everything seemed to be on track, the Arabs stumbled to the finish line with a 2-4 record.

What essentially did in IVC was lack of depth, being only able to go about six deep and play with the same consistency.

This year the team is considerably deeper, able to go about eight deep. And with that depth comes the ability to change the offense.

"Last year when we played some of those teams the second time, they made adjustments to us. And because we weren't that deep, we really couldn't change much that we were doing," said Tucker. "But this year it's different. Now our bench is deeper and we can run different things. We could play one team a certain way one game, then the next play them totally different. So that will definitely be more beneficial."

Contributing heavily to the team's success this year and helping IVC to a 14-5 record is freshman Marquita Travis from Brawley. The only starter who was not on last year's team, the 18-year-old has taken over the power forward spot and has helped IVC establish a formidable inside/outside game.

While Travis wasn't on last year's team, she knows how much winning conference means to her teammates and the importance of playing each game as if everything was riding on it.

"We know that every team, no matter who it is, is a good team with good players. We're not going to take any team for granted and not look past anyone," said Travis. "Our main goal, right now, is to win PCC. It would be a big disappointment if we didn't win it. And I also would really like to go to state, because there, in that tournament, it doesn't matter who you are. Anyone and everyone is beatable."

Before the Arabs can start making reservations to the state tournament, they must prepare to make a run at the conference title, a title point guard LaToya Jackson thinks is within the team's grasp.

"Last year we didn't make playoffs by one game, just one game. But this year I think we're a better team. We're all more unified and we work together better," said the 19-year-old Jackson. "I think this year we're gonna take it. There's no doubt in my mind that we'll win conference. Last year we went home early. This year I don't wanna go home early, I wanna keep playing after the regular season is over."

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