Women’s basketball preview: Pirates look to heal up, rebuild roster for another playoff run

Winter sports preview: Peninsula College women’s basketball

Head coach: Ali Crumb (ninth season)

2016-2017 record: 10-4 in North Region (second place), 19-10 overall; 1-1 at NWAC tournament

Returning players: Kayla Alvarez (G), Hannah Geberyesus (G), Yamilei Rodriguez (G), Tiffani Smith (G), Jamellia Clark (F-RS)

Newcomers: Olivia Williams (F), Ashly Fernandez (G), Jocelyn Moore (F), Ashlynn Sharp (G), Caci Payton (G), Kirby Mikayla (G)

The season hasn’t begun in full and yet the injury bug has already hit the Peninsula College’s women’s basketball squad roster.

Still, head coach Ali Crumb is geared up for a 2017-2018 season that sees the Pirates looking for their seventh-consecutive NWAC tournament appearance.

Crumb’s 2017-18 team features four returners from last year, a red-shirt sophomore who practiced with the team last year, a transfer sophomore from Bremerton, and six freshmen.

Back from last year are Kayla Alvarez, a 5-foot 2-inch guard from Salt Lake City, Utah, and a trio of players from Las Vegas, Nev.: Hannah Geberyesus, a 5-4 guard; Yamilei Rodriguez, a 5-9 guard, and Tiffani Smith, a 5-6 guard.

Last season, Rodriguez scored 7.6 points per game in 25 games, while Smith had 5.7 points, 1.4 assists and 1.4 steals in 29 games.

Also returning is Las Vegas native Jamellia Clark, a 5-11 red-shirt sophomore post.

“The returners have stepped in and done a wonderful job leading this group of new faces,” Crumb said. “They really care about one another and are committed to this program and their new teammates. I’m very fortunate to be able to lean on this group moving forward.”

Joining the Pirates this year are Olivia Williams, a 5-9 sophomore transfer from Umpqua Community College who played her high school basketball at Olympic in Silverdale; Ashly Fernandez, a 5-7 freshman from Las Vegas, Nev.; Jocelyn Moore, a 5-10 post from Coulee Dam, Wa., and Ashlynn Sharp, a 5-8 guard from Las Vegas, Nev.

Star recruit Cassandra White, a 5-9 guard from Modesto, Calif., was lost to a season-ending knee injury.

Still, Crumb said she is excited about her freshman class.

“I’m excited about the new faces that we have,” she said. “They have come in and created a big presence on the court and we hope to develop and push those players to be the best they can possibly be.”

Just seven players off that 12-player roster, however, were eligible when they kicked off the season at the First Federal Pirate Classic opener against Centralia on Dec. 1 (see story above).

“We have been bludgeoned with injuries, and have therefore done some extra recruiting to get two new faces here in December once they finish their current quarters,” Crumb said.

The Pirates will have two other players joining them winter quarter in Caci Payton, a 5-7 guard, and Kirby Mikayla, also a 5-7 guard. Both are from Las Vegas, Nev.

“Because of our injuries, I did some extra recruiting to get two new faces here in December, once they finish their current quarters,” Crumb said.

“Mikayla and Payton will be an added boost to our backcourt, where we desperately need depth after losing (Casandra),” she said. “We just need to stay focused with the group that we have and hope that our incoming December players can help with our depth. It hasn’t been pretty this off-season, but we need to be resilient. There is no excuses around here, so we will compete to the best of our ability.”

The Pirates placed second in the North Region last year but lost a slew of talented players from last year’s squad, including Alicia Dugan (13.1 ppg and 2.3 steals per game, 13th in NWAC), Sephora Yayouss (6.9 ppg and 3.6 assists per game, 16th in NWAC), Jenise McKnight (13.1 ppg), Anaya Rodisha (12.8 ppg) and Tai Thomas (8.8 ppg).

“We hope to continue to be atop our league, and get another NWAC birth,” Crumb said. “There will be a lot of learning to do this off-season as we are low in bodies, but hopefully that will make us even better and more resilient come league play.”

Following the First Federal Pirate Classic, Peninsula plays nine Consecutive road games before closing out their pre-season at home Jan. 5 against Lower Columbia and Jan. 6 against South Puget Sound.

Conference play gets under way Jan. 10.

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