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Swish: Meet the women’s basketball team

The Palomar women’s basketball team came to play this season. With a 7-0 winning streak starting their season. The team and Coach Leigh Marshall hope to continue to dominate on the court.

Season-long victory won’t come easily for the team, as the women face challenges of team restructuring and multiple player injuries.

“We have big goals that we set, kind of breaking up the journey into different parts, and winning the tournament—our basic goal is to work hard, and to get after it, and leave everything out on the court. Our goal is to win conference again and get back to the state tournament,” Marshall explained.

Women's basketball coach Leigh Marshall talks with the team at the Dome on Feb. 10, 2016. Johnny Jone/The Telescope archive
Women’s basketball coach Leigh Marshall talks with the team at the Dome on Feb. 10, 2016. Johnny Jone/The Telescope archive

Preparation is tough, and at first they ease into the season, but then slowly build in intensity. “It’s a lot of work,” she said.

Practice is rigorous and involved, and the women are involved full-time at this point. “It’s a lot of defense, to be honest. 70% of our practices are based around defense,” says Marshall. At first training is three days a week, then they add on two more days, and at this point the season it’s in its full capacity.

This season, the women are working to overcome the challenge of working with a new team. Only two sophomore players returned to play this season, while the rest are new to the team.

“Our biggest challenge is playing together. From last year we have a whole different team, everyone plays different. In the past teams that I’ve been on, all of us are getting used to playing together,” said returning player Quinesha Van Hook.

“Personality wise I love them, they’re really fun to be around, and they’re a good group of kids,” Coach Marshall smiled.

Injuries are perhaps the other biggest challenge this season. “We just won our Palomar tournament without a starter, she didn’t play all weekend. We lost her to torn ligaments in her ankle, and then we just lost another kid in that tournament to a sprained ankle, so we have about three kids out right now that would be big time players for us.”

The team is working hard to overcome this obstacle as well, and the players remain strong and supportive throughout the season.

“A lot of mental toughness. Staying strong mentally can get you through anything,” said forward Nia De La Pena-Thompson on the team mentality.

The team isn’t all business, though — after practice, the group likes to huddle up and dance.

“We do team dinners, and we do a lot to stay connected, because it’s a long, long haul. They have to like each other on the court as well as off the court. We have to do a lot of team building, and we work hard at that,” Marshall said.

Marshall has had a love for basketball since she was young, and wanted to be involved with the sport since the junior college level.

“I was a team captain my sophomore year and we won state. I knew I was a hard worker, I wasn’t a top player or anything, I was off the bench, and I knew I couldn’t afford to go to the schools that were recruiting me, so they talked to me about joining the coaching staff right away (at Palomar) and I knew it was something I really wanted to do,” she explained.

She started her career while attending Orange Coast College, beginning as an assistant coach at 20 years old. She continued as an assistant coach for five years.

When she isn’t coaching on campus, she teaches Health 100 and a couple of activity classes such as weight lifting that she teaches in the wellness center.

The women have started the season strong, and hope to continue to bring home wins. In December, the women will play in both the Cypress Tournament and the Orange Coast Christmas Tournament.

Quotes from Girls basketball team:

Palomar forward/Guard Quinesha Vanhook (15) scores 7 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists Sat night as the comets defeated Santa Monica College at the Dome Nov. 19. Johnny Jones/The telescope

Quinesha Van Hook — Position: G/F Ht: 5-9 – Do you want a career in basketball? “Personally, I want to earn a scholarship after this season, then continue playing for two more years and then probably be done with basketball. The goal is to earn state championship this year.”

Been playing for 3 years for Palomar

Been playing since 7th grade, so 8 years.

Biggest challenge of the season? “Our biggest challenge is playing together. From last year we have a whole different team, everyone plays different. In the past teams that I’ve been on, all of us are getting used to playing together.”

Nia De La Pena-Thompson, #32 plays as a forward on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.
Nia De La Pena-Thompson, #32 plays as a forward on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.

Nia De La Pena — Position: F Ht: 5-10 – Do you want a career in basketball?“I’m playing as a hobby right now and hoping to get a scholarship so that I can make it to my career.”

She is an education major, not sure where she wants to go yet, this is her 2 year at Palomar.

Favorite hobby is she reads a lot, likes science fiction

Things she’s learned from the team: “A lot of mental toughness. Staying strong mentally can get you through anything.”

——-

Headshots/ one statement about the girls on the team:

Sophia Neubauer, #12 plays as a forward on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.
Sophia Neubauer, #12 plays as a forward on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.

Sophia Neubauer Position: F Ht: 6-1 – Any sort of pre-game routine? “I usually listen to music, I have a certain playlist. I’m also superstitious, I wear the same sports bra”

Morgan Heise, #33 plays as a guard on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.
Morgan Heise, #33 plays as a guard on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.

Morgan Heise — Position: G Ht: 5-7 – Do you want a career in basketball? ”It’s getting me through school and I really am hoping to get a scholarship out of it to get to the next level, I think it really helps me stay focused and it’s something that I only really have going on in my life right now”

Monica Todd, #5 plays as a Guard on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.
Monica Todd, #5 plays as a Guard on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.

Monica Todd — Position: G Ht: 5-10 – Biggest challenge? “My biggest challenge this season is being a leader. This is my sophomore year, so I’ve struggled with that, and moving the team forward…that’s the plan.”

Julie Saelee is a Red Shirt and plays as a Guard on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.
Julie Saelee is a Red Shirt and plays as a Guard on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.

Julie Saelee — Position: G Ht: 5-4 – Inspiration or Aspiration? “I play for myself the most. Basketball makes me really happy, so I just want to go as far as I can”

Tianna Shaw, #10 plays as a Guard on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.
Tianna Shaw, #10 plays as a Guard on the Fall 2017 women’s basketball team.

Tianna Shaw — Position: G Ht: 5-6 – Some challenges? “Adjusting to the different styles of playing,” Shaw said regarding how this season has been.

 

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