ALUMNI NOTEBOOK: Area grads help college hoops teams earn conference championships
Community college basketball in California wrapped up its regular season last week and several area alumni stepped up to help their respective squads earn conference titles.
Aycee Willis, a 2017 Nevada Union graduate, and Alyssa Pulkinghorn, a 2017 Bear River graduate, played their part in helping the women’s team at Sierra College close the regular season with a 27-1 overall record and a share of the California Community College Athletic Association’s Big 8 title.
“We play well as a team and, even though this is the first year we’re all playing together, we have good team chemistry and are all friends,” Willis said of how tight-knit the Sierra team is. “It’s so much fun to play with them. We have such a great attitude. No one’s cocky. We just want to win a state championship.”
Willis, a freshman guard, tallied a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in Wolverines’ season finale victory over Cosumnes River College last week.
For the season, Willis is averaging 10.7 points per game and 4.6 rebounds.
“Aycee is doing a fantastic job as a freshman,” Sierra head coach Brandie Murrish said. “She’s just so consistent with her game. She brings it night in and night out. She brings it at practice each day. She shows up, works hard and does what we ask her to do. She’s really versatile and that’s the exciting part about having her on our squad.”
Willis didn’t play basketball her senior year at NU, but was an All-Sierra Foothill League First Team selection in her sophomore season when she helped the Lady Miners reach the playoffs.
Pulkinghorn, also a freshman guard, chipped in five points in the win over Cosumnes River.
For the season, Pulkinghorn is averaging 2.1 points per game.
“(Pulkinghorn) is a big piece to our team, a big piece of our chemistry and definitely pushes our players in practice,” Murrish said. “We are definitely looking to keep developing her game.”
During Pulkinghorn’s senior year at Bear River she was an All-Pioneer Valley League First Team Selection and led the Lady Bruins to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV semifinals.
The Wolverines are the No. 1 seed in the CCCAA’s Women’s Basketball Championship Northern California bracket, and will face the winner of the No. 17 Shasta vs. No. 16 Solano matchup Saturday.
Esme Quintana, a 2017 Nevada Union graduate, and the Yuba College 49ers closed their hoops season on a winning note, topping Mendocino College, 50-46.
Quintana, a freshman guard, scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win. She put up averages of 11.5 points per game and 5.3 rebounds in her first season with Yuba.
The 49ers (4-21, 2-14) compete in the CCCAA’s Bay Valley League.
David O’Brien, a 2016 Bear River graduate, helped the Shasta College men’s squad win their final game of the regular season and earn the CCCAA’s Golden Valley Conference Championship.
“The biggest thing about our team is we don’t have a bunch of individuals — we play great as a team,” O’Brien said. “We play team ball. We move the ball. We’re one of the better teams in the state at assists per game. And, we’re also one of the better teams in points allowed on defense. When we come ready to play on defense and communicate, that’s when we are at our best.”
Shasta is 10th in the state in assists per game (18.6) and third in points allowed per game (59.1).
O’Brien, a sophomore guard, came off the bench and scored 10 points in Shasta’s conference clinching 97-56 victory over College of the Redwoods last week.
For the season, O’Brien is averaging 5.3 points per game.
While at Bear River, O’Brien was a three-year varsity starter and earned All-Pioneer Valley League First Team honors in his junior and senior seasons. In his final season at Bear River, he led the Bruins in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. He also broke the school record for most steals in a season in his senior year.
The Shasta Knights (18-9, 9-1) grabbed the No. 11 seed in the CCCAA’s Men’s Basketball Championship Northern California bracket and will open the playoffs at No. 6 College of the Sequoias Friday.
David Menary, a 2016 Nevada Union graduate, and the University of Redlands Bulldogs won their only game last week, topping Cal Lutheran University.
Menary, a sophomore forward, scored 20 points and pulled down 15 rebounds in the win.
For the season, Menary is averaging 16.2 points per game and 7.6 rebounds.
Redlands (7-17, 5-10) is NCAA Division III school that plays in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
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