ROCKVILLE — With just one returning regular from last season, it’s reloading time for the Solano Community College women’s basketball team.
A recruiting class of eight freshmen join the Falcons this year and hope to help coach Matt Borchert stay on top of the Bay Valley conference.
Sophomore forward Cheyenne Shepherd is the lone returning player, although forward Lucy Santos was with the team early last season.
“Cheyenne’s doing really well. She’s a good scorer for us, she has a nice touch, she can shoot the 3,” Borchert said. “She’s a little inside/outside threat.
Cheyenne’s really stepped up. Hopefully she’ll be one of our better players.”
Shepherd brings in some solid experience for the Falcons.
“She played 23-24 games last year, she has the most experience. She has eternal energy and she’s in great shape, strong, fast,” he said. “Her game has taken a turn for the better.”
Borchert said he’s looking for big things from Shepherd and Santos, who at 5-foot, 10 inches and 5-foot-9, respectively, are among his tallest players.
“They’ll both get key rebounds with that size,” he said.
The newcomers are also finding their places as the season gets going.
“The freshmen are a good group, they have good chemistry,” Borchert said. “I’m excited about the maturity level. They’re doing well, going to class.”
Joining the Falcons out of St. Patrick’s in Vallejo is Taylor Hamilton.
“She’s a really good point guard out of St. Pat’s,” Borchert said. “She was first-team all-Bay Shore Athletic League. She’s really good, one of our top recruits. She’s going to be really hard to guard.”
Borchert said he sees Hamilton becoming one of the better point guards in Solano’s history.
Rodriguez graduate Ariel Clay comes in as a guard/forward for the Falcons.
“She’s a good athlete that we’re really excited about,” Borchert said.
Shianna Rincon, out of Will C. Wood ,was another player who was with the Falcons briefly last year.
“Of all the players, she has worked the hardest on her game. She’s really stepped up,” Borchert said. “She’s our most aggressive player, best defender, she gobbles up rebounds.”
Guard Kristina Kountouris comes in from Napa High. Borchert called her, “a smart player, and a good shooter.”
Wood product Ariella Harper spent last season injured.
“She brings added size and she runs the floor well,” Borchert said.
Stephanie Saelee is a couple years removed from West Campus High, but brings a wicked 3-point shot, the coach said.
“She hit nine 3s in a high school game once,” Borchert said.
Former Vanden player Alexcia Jennings is at Solano this year.
“She works her butt off,” Borchert said. “She’s come along as well.”
Necole White gives the Falcons another threat at the point.
“(She’s) another ball handler to back up Taylor, which we really need,” Borchert said. “She’s a good athlete. I’m real happy to have her as well.”
It’s going to take a team approach this year with no single superstar player the coach added.
“It all starts with Taylor, Ariel, Cheyenne,” he said. “We’ve got to be really smart, fundamentally sound and stay healthy.”
So far the team has been a fun bunch to coach.
“They’re a really good group. They’re fun to be around, they listen really well,” Borchert said. “We’re going to play a little differently than we have in the past.”
The Falcons have three more tournaments before they get into Bay Valley Conference play, which starts Jan. 2 with a home game against Yuba College.
“I’m excited because the conference is going to be better,” Borchert said. “We’ve been needing that for a long time. Our conference gets beat up a little bit. Some teams have done better. Look for it being very competitive. It will be tougher than it has been in the past.”
With 16 conference games, there’s plenty of opportunity for the Faclons to make some noise after a second-place finish in the Valley Division last season.
“There’s more strategy. You can teach the players, work on things and get better from one game to the next,” Borchert said.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.