By Ray Hamill — A young College of the Redwoods women’s basketball team is finding ways to win close games early in the season.
And lone sophomore Ashley Quigley is a big reason why.
“The biggest thing I see about Ashley is her leadership,” head coach Jain Tuey said of the 2019/20 all-state third-team selection. “She’s showing up and letting the girls know what they have to do.
“On the court she’s picking up the girls and letting them know the game’s not over and we have to fight even harder.”
Her teammates appear to be paying attention.
Four of the team’s opening five games have been closely contested affairs and decided by five or fewer points, and the Corsairs have won three of them, including a 64-59 win over Mendocino on Saturday.
“What’s impressed me is their resiliency,” Tuey said. “They never give up. We’ve had four pretty close games and we’ve come out on top in three of those. And I think that shows the girls have a lot of potential and they’re not going to give up and they’re going to fight to the end.”
Quigley, who is the only returning player from the 2019/20 conference championship team, is averaging 23 points a game so far and has been a consistent threat, scoring at least 21 in every game.
She also nailed a buzzer-beater in a 56-54 win over Napa last week in the Mission College Tournament championship game.
Several newcomers have also stepped up their game early as they adapt to the faster pace of the college game.
Gracie Betts and Rachel Valdez in particular have had an immediate impact, with Betts playing point guard and freeing up Quigley to play shooting guard.
Valdez also brings some maturity to the roster, having been a part of the Hawaii Pacific program last season.
“Rachel is a smart player and she has a little bit more experience,” Tuey said. “She can play all-around for us and she’s definitely stepping up and showing that she’s going to have a big role for our team.”
Oregon’s Kathryce Danzuka also has played a big role early for the team.
“She’s been in the starting lineup since the get-go and she’s going to be a shooter for us,” the head coach said. “And she’s been stepping up.”
Fortuna’s Lily Shelton and Hoopa’s Nas-Che-Wen Hunsucker each also have a played a role for team early and “have shown a lot of growth” stepping in at various points of games, according to the coach.
The team’s progress in practice has been limited in part because of COVID protocols and a couple of players still playing volleyball, but despite that they continue to show up for the games.
Kendall Stewart and Josie Peterson are both also expected to play a big role for the team this season now that they are done with volleyball, as is Pisa Fonoti.
The Corsairs (4-1) will try to keep their impressive start to the season going at the Sierra College tournament this weekend.
They open against Fresno City (2-1) on Thursday night.