By Ray Hamill — It’s been a successful year on and off the field of competition for College of the Redwoods athletics, particularly for Corsairs basketball.
And that continued recently, with two more CR student-athletes signing their letters of intent to play at four-year programs and signaling another success story for the local community college.
Ashley Quigley, who was a two-time all-state selection in basketball for the Corsairs, is moving on to play for a national-championship winning coach at Arizona Christian University in Phoenix, while teammate Makaila Napoleon will take her talents to William Jessup University in Rocklin.
Both are NAIA programs and both schools seemed like a perfect fit for the two talented Corsairs, each of whom left their mark on the CR courts.
“I’ve spent time in Arizona. I have an uncle and aunt who live there, and I thought I’d reach out to a couple of schools out there,” Quigley said. “And then I had the opportunity to go out for a visit and I fell in love with the campus and the team and the coach.”
Quigley was outstanding during her time at CR, leading the Corsairs to a conference championship and a playoff win as a freshman, before playing an equally pivotal role as a sophomore and leading a young team to a second-place finish in conference.
She earned all-state third-team honors in both seasons.
“Obviously Ashley made a huge impact on our program. Her success was shown by her third-team all-star recognition both years,” CR head coach Jain Tuey said. “She plays hard, she never quits, and she’s determined to win no matter what the situation.”
Napoleon, meanwhile, transferred to CR after playing her freshman season at Oregon Tech, and she played volleyball for the Corsairs in the fall before joining the basketball team right before the season.
And she had an immediate impact, while also providing a much-needed leadership role on a young roster.
Napoleon led the team in rebounds with 9.1 a game, as well as averaging 14.1 points, and she was named to the GVC All-Conference team.
“Makaila’s a strong player,” Tuey said. “She’s a very strong player and she’s versatile. She can shoot a little bit, she gets to the rim and she can play post.”
The 2019 Eureka High graduate follows in the footsteps of another former Logger and Corsair, Bobbie Purify, who played a couple of seasons at William Jessup before graduating this year.
Quigley, who graduated from Arcata High in 2017, was second in the GVC this year with 19.8 points a game and she led the conference in 3-point shooting percentage with an impressive 44.4 percent.
As a competitor, one of the things that she liked about Arizona Christian was their head coach, Rusty Rogers, who has been coaching for 37 years and has won two NAIA national championships.
Rogers has steadily built a competitive program in his three years in Arizona.
“Every year he’s been there they’ve improved and won more games each season, and that’s always a positive,” Quigley said.
After playing a lot of point guard for CR, Quigley’s role with the Firestorm will change somewhat and she expects to benefit from having an all-American point guard alongside her.
“(Coach Rogers) has some really good players down there and I’m looking forward to playing with them and making them better and them making me better as well,” she said. “I’m going to be more of a shooting guard and go do my thing.”
She says her three years at CR helped prepare her for the jump in a lot of ways, and in particular her two coaches.
“It helped with just everything,” she said. “Coach Jain, Coach Darren (Turpin), they pushed me every day, and winning (a conference championship) in my freshman year and making history, it was incredible.
“Being the older one on the team and a leader made me grow and mature into that leadership role. It really made me grow and become a better player.”
Tuey will have some big shoes to fill with Quigley and Napoleon’s departure, but she expects to have a large freshmen class back for next winter, including Gracie Betts, who received an all-conference honorable mention this year, and Rachel Valdez, who was named to the conference all-freshman team.