FAIRFIELD — In a continuing trend, the Solano County Athletic Conference and Monticello Empire League outright girls basketball champions were from the city of Fairfield in 2012-13.
It was the 13th straight overall title and seventh in the SCAC for Vanden, the third straight for Armijo.
Will they be able to do it again? And will Rodriguez and Fairfield be contenders? Here’s a look at each of the city teams:
Christian Stoll led the Indians to MEL titles in the final three of his four years as coach. Following his resignation, former Armijo boys coach Lawrence Trigg takes over.
So what brought him back into coaching?
“The coaching bug never really left,” Trigg said. “A lot of coaching is teaching and that’s what I am – a teacher. I left because I was sure I was moving to Mississippi. Three years later, I am still here. I stayed around the game by becoming a high school basketball referee again. I saw a lot of good coaching and some bad. I don’t claim to know it all (have it all), but I just wanted to give back what basketball knowledge I have.”
Trigg inherits a 30-game MEL winning streak but no starters who helped compile it.
The only four returning players off last year’s squad of 17 are forward Jaimi Garlington, forward/guard Tiffini Mestas, shooting guard Jada Williams and point guard Lauryn Williams.
Newcomers expected to make a splash are senior guard Courtenay Brown, junior center Passion Ware and sophomore guard Destiny Blueford.
“Our strength will be our defense, our passion for the game,” Trigg said. “They play hard.”
Trigg said shooting was a concern and, indeed, the Indians have struggled early.
“We are improving,” the coach said. “We can score, but we need to be able to hit shots.”
A lot of that will have to do to how the Indians respond to strong defensive teams and how they play against zone defenses, he said.
A fourth straight MEL title may be a longshot, but Trigg and the Indians have lofty goals. They include: “To get better every moment we are on the basketball court, to come together as a team and contend for a playoff spot,” Trigg said.
The Vikings may be as good as they’ve been in Allison Johnson’s nine years as coach, which is saying something since they’ve won league titles in each of those nine seasons and last year reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title game and the NorCal quarterfinals.
Back as starters are senior guard/forward Mariah Williams, the reigning SCAC MVP, who has signed to play for Nevada, senior forward/center Aleseana Whitney, who’s headed to Cal State Stanislaus and junior guard Kayla Blair. Junior guard Toni Taylor is out for the season with a knee injury.
Also back are senior guards Alex Bader and Brooke Gibbins, junior guards Cassandra Jones and Brittany Kirbyson, junior forward/guard Chantell Greer and sophomore guard Kiana Moore.
Freshman guard Julia Blackshell-Fair has already had a big impact and sophomore forward Brittney Livingston is also key at 5-foot-11.
In describing the strengths of her team, Johnson could’ve been talking about nearly each of her previous nine squads.
“We’re athletic, quick and have depth,” she said. “We can get up and down the court as well as play a half-court game.”
Staying healthy is always a concern, especially with the Vikings’ lofty goals.
Johnson not only wants her team to “improve every day,”but also win league, section and state titles.”
Lou Collier enters his eighth season as Mustangs coach with three returning starters in senior guard Jenessa Boling, senior forward Daraja Carroll and junior point guard Briana Hayles.
Also back are senior guards Az’hiana Musolf, Allyson Tacdol and Delia Fuller, senior forward Da’Jouna Lewis and senior swing player Genna Smith.
Key newcomers are sophomore forwards Destiny Greenwood and Casara Vaughn, junior swing player Unique Woodlief and junior forward Raneasha Gilbert.
“We should be a very athletic and fast team able to play solid defense and run on breaks,” Collier said.
According to their coach, the Mustangs look to “shake off last season” when they went 13-14 overall and 5-5 in the MEL, narrowly missing a playoff berth.
“Our goal is to take each game one at a time and play our best,” Collier said. ”If we can go out each game and put out our best effort we a have solid chance of being one of the top teams in the MEL. We want to be a solid defensive team and try to eliminate second chance shots.”
That sophomore point guard Ra’Shanae Johnson is the lone returning starter and senior guard Lia Williams is the only other returning player for third-year coach Michael Gilliard shows just how young the Falcons are.
Newcomers hoped to make an immediate impact are sophomore swing player Christina Oliver-Ford, freshman forward/center Kayla Farr and senior guard Ebony Hughes.
Gilliard sees the youth of the team as a strength because “they have a desire to learn the game, get better, play hard and compete.”
At the same time, that youth is a huge concern.
“The team is very young with only two upperclassmen,” Gilliard said. “My concern (is) mainly the young players handling the pressure of playing in such a competitive schedule . . . not to mention our extremely tough league.”
With that in mind Gilliard wants his players to “take each game as a learning experience and build the strength of each other.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.