By Ray Hamill — College of the Redwoods sophomore Ashley Quigley admits that early in the campaign she wasn’t sure what to expect out of this year’s team.
As the lone returner on a roster that won a conference championship and a playoff game two years ago, it took some time for Quigley and her teammates to adjust and it wasn’t all easy.
“Coming off a really good season (in 2019/20), obviously I had some high expectations, but after that first scrimmage I wasn’t sure,” she said. “But fortunately we did exceed my expectations.”
Thanks in large part to Quigley’s leadership and the late addition of fellow sophomore Makaila Napoleon, the Corsairs have enjoyed plenty of success this season and will carry momentum and confidence in Thursday night’s playoff opener at City College of San Francisco.
The CR women are 18-9 and finished second to Butte in the Golden Valley Conference with a record of 7-3.
They also have shown a knack for winning close games after closing out with seven wins in eight games, including six of them by six or fewer points.
“I think our bond and connection off the court helps,” Quigley said. “We all get along really well and we put in the work at practice every day and I feel we get better with each game.”
Napoleon, who only joined the team right before the season, echoed the sentiment.
“Our team is very close,” she said. “Even outside of practice we hang out, and just having that closeness and knowing how we’re going to react definitely helps.”
Both sophomores were named all-conference last week, while Quigley will go down as one of the all-time great players in CR history after being named to the all-state third team for the second straight season.
And as her time at CR winds down, the former Arcata Tiger has received plenty of interest from four-year programs but says she won’t be making any decisions until after the season and that she wants to focus on helping her team advance as far as possible in the playoffs.
And she believes they can upset the odds in the Bay Area on Thursday.
“Obviously they’re a really a good team, they’re the No. 3 seed, but we’re not paying attention to those numbers,” she said. “All we’re focused on is us going out and playing our game, and if we do that …”
Napoleon, who transferred to CR after a freshman season at Oregon Tech, is looking forward to this week’s game and says she has enjoyed her one season playing for the Corsairs.
“Personally I couldn’t thank the team enough for accepting me and having me come in late,” she said. “I had a fun season and I’m very thankful to the team and coaches for letting me play.”
The two-sport standout also starred for the Corsairs in volleyball, receiving an all-GVC honorable mention in 2021, and intends on playing for CR again this fall.
After that, she says, if she gets the opportunity to play either basketball or volleyball at a four-year school she would take it.
For now, however, she’s just enjoying being close to home again and playing in front of family and friends.
“I love being able to play where I grew up and having my family there and be able to come and watch me play,” she said.
Thursday’s game is set for 5:30 p.m. and will be streamed on YouTube.