The Vaqueros (2-4) hosted its annual Vaquero Shoot-Out Friday through Sunday. They once again played host to last year’s winner Ventura College. Other participants were Fullerton College, Santa Ana College, Cerritos College, Antelope Valley College, San Diego Mesa, and Victor Valley College.
They came into the tournament 0-2 after losing both games in the Pasadena City College tournament Nov. 6-9. They were hoping that the annual tournament would be a catapult for this young team. GCC came in second in last years tournament and sophomores Danielle Johnson and Arpi Babakhanian were poised for a return trip back to the finals.
They opened up their home schedule by beating up on a weak Santa Ana College team on Friday night 98-33.
The Vaqueros controlled every aspect of the game from the opening tip-off. Sloppy defense and poor shooting by Santa Ana allowed the Vaqueros to do as they pleased with the basketball. The Vaqueros opened up a 41-point lead going into halftime, but became lack
luster on defense, which frustrated Miller.
Saturday night they fell to Fullerton College, 78-93, the eventual champion of the tournament. In that game the Vaqueros could not get off the ground. The offense was plagued with turnovers and missed opportunities. On the other side of the court the defense struggled, the Vaqueros allowed Fullerton to control post play all night long.
The following night brought more of the same against Antelope Valley College in the third place game. Despite leading the team in scoring for the tournament, Shannon Kegley’s poor shot selection in critical situations took away great opportunities for GCC in both games Saturday and Sunday.
This seems to be a continuing problem in what coach Dyan Miller thinks is because of the team’s inexperience at this level. “Last year we were experienced and hungry. We had solid players with experience at every spot,” Miller said. “We are still learning as a team to step up to the next level and play hard.”
The best game of the tournament came in the championship game between Cerritos and Fullerton. The game went back and forth with both teams. At one point, it looked like Cerritos was going to pull it out when they opened their lead to 13 points with about 14 minutes left in the game. But Fullerton did not allow that to happen. Led by Tournament MVP Caricia Jones and Jessica Jennings, Fullerton fought back. With about three minutes left in the game, they tied it up with an easy lay-up from Brenda Gallardo after a string of Cerritos turnovers. Fullerton never looked back, winning 65-58 and their first tournament championship at Glendale College in their seventh try.
After the heart pounding win, Jennings the captain of Fullerton said, “We won because we wanted it more, and played with more heart than the other team (Cerritos).”
This also marked the first year that Ventura College has not walked away with the championship title, but they did win the final in the consolation bracket. As far as the Vaqueros are concerned, the season is still early.
Coach Miller knows that her players are young and that they will have a tough time. She said that they can not make decisions or mistakes that will hurt them, which also includes shooting better from the free-throw line.
They have shot under 50 percent so far, which Miller says is inexcusable.