FAIRFIELD — If Friday’s clash between the Armijo and Vanden high school girls basketball teams at E. Gary Vaughn Gymnasium – won by the Vikings 65-63 in overtime – is any indication, the two squads figure to be the class of their respective leagues this season.
There was a playoff atmosphere and both squads looked to be in midseason form. Their quest to repeat begins in January.
Here’s a look at each of the city teams:
For the first time in their history the Indians (4-4) enter a season after back-to-back Monticello Empire League championships.
Armijo, 23-8 a year ago with a 10-0 run through the MEL, is led by senior point guard Marshanique Hall, the two-time league Player of the Year.
Other returning starters include senior posts Melaya Gaines and Justice Robinson-Kroon, and senior guard Daija Daniels.
Also back are senior posts S’ade Ware, Laura Lawson and Zhane’ Garlington, senior guard Kianna Simms, and junior guard Jainice Robinson-Kroon.
After two league titles in his first three years as Armijo coach, Christian Stoll is simply looking for his team to “be consistent throughout the season. Play great defense. Hustle and rebound.”
The Vikings have known nothing but league championships in each of coach Allison Johnson’s eight campaigns, including last season in the Solano County Athletic Conference, and their last 12 overall.
With a 7-0 start, Vanden is again off to a solid start after going 22-9 a year ago.
Back as starters for the Vikings are senior guard Adrianna Jones, junior post Aleseana Whitney and sophomore guard Kayla Blair.
Also returning are sophomore guards Lanissa Belk, Toni Taylor and Brittany Kirbyson, junior guard Alexandra Bader and sophomore wing/post Chantell Greer.
Newcomers are freshman guard Kiana Moore and junior guard Mariah Williams, with junior guard Brooke Gibbins and sophomore guard Cassandra Jones up from the junior varsity team.
Returning from injury is senior post Kiara Beacham, while junior post Aryanna Martinez is out with an injury.
Like Stoll, Johnson’s goals for her team are simple. She wants her players to “improve each day in the preseason leading us into performing at a higher level in league and make a strong push in playoffs.”
The Mustangs (3-6) make the move from the SCAC to the MEL and hope the switch helps them get back to the playoffs. They missed the postseason last year despite a 16-11 record after going 4-6 in conference play.
They’ll have to do it without senior point guard Jala Carter, who is out for the season with an injury.
Back as starters are senior guard Jopheia Irvin and senior forward LaLa Lockett.
Others returning are senior guard Raeona Ford, senior forward Asia Bridges and junior guard Jensessa Boling.
New to the squad are junior forward and sophomore guard Briana Hayles.
“With the talent we have this year, we should bring a great deal of competition to the MEL,” Rodriguez coach Lou Collier said. “We expect to challenge for the league title, especially if we come together during the preseason.”
The Falcons return no starters off last year’s 6-19 team, but our looking to rebuild in a hurry.
Back for Fairfield are junior wing Alaze Jackson, senior wing Shawnecia Hill, senior wing Denise Johnson, senior post Talia Champion-Benjamin and junior wing/post Shawntanea Moten.
Newcomers include freshman guard Ra’Shanae Johnson, junior wing Lia Williams,senior wing Alexis Hines and senior post Leoshisia Walters.
“We are in the rebuilding process,” second-year coach Michael Gilliard said. “Three of our key players have ankle, knee and shoulder injuries. Hopefully, (we’ll) get them back at the beginning of league. This (SCAC) is a new league for us. This season, if the girls stay healthy, we will be competitive.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.