Spring semester at Palomar College may have just began but for the Comets’ men and women’s basketball, the 2014-2015 season is already in full swing.
Playing games since early November and over Winter Break, both squads are in mid-season form as Pacific Coast Athletic Conference play starts up.
After a 16-11 record last season, Head Coach Leigh Marshall’s women’s team has started this year on fire, with a 14-2 record so far. Having eight sophomores returning from last year’s team, the experience showcased by the group of established players has propelled the team to a No. 1 ranking in the PCAC.
“I think (this year) we finally have the puzzle pieces of the athletes, they really buy into the team. They love each other and every day they’re ready to work,” Marshall said.
Starting the season off with a seven-game, winning streak, including a San Jacinto Lions Club Tip-Off Tournament victory, the Comets have continued their impressive run into 2015, with their biggest win a 50-point victory over Imperial Valley College, 88-38, on January 15.
The rapport this team has is one of the biggest reasons for this year’s success, as standout guard Keisha Cox can attest.
“I think we have more chemistry on this team. We really take pride in how we play,” Cox said.
A sophomore from Mission Hills High School, Cox has been a key player for the Comets, averaging 21 points per game as well as 8 rebounds per game.
On the men’s side, the season so far has had a bit of a roller coaster feel to it, as long-time Head Coach John O’Neill and his staff have worked with the mostly freshman squad (11 first-year players, 3 returnees) to an 8-8 record so far. But after two gritty wins to start conference play, including overcoming a 17-point deficit at Mt. San Jacinto College, the Comets seem to be hitting their stride down the schedules’ difficult stretch.
“Right now we’re playing pretty well, it’s just going to be a matter of maintaining what we’re doing and focusing on trying to get better every day,” O’Neill said.
With only three sophomores, James Sampson (Chaparral High), Keith Houston (Monte Vista High), and Jeremy Franklin (Escondido High), the adjustment period from high school to the college level of play for the rest of the team has been handled fairly well.
“Players are starting to understand that we have the potential to win,” Sampson said.
Franklin added, “We’re really coming together as a whole and starting to find our identity.”
Both teams continue their season with home games at the Dome this Wednesday, Jan. 21, with the women playing first at 5 p.m. against Grossmont College. The men tip off is at 7 p.m. against MiraCosta College.