Women’s hoops using size, speed to its advantage

Carl E. Littleberry Jr., Reporter

After a 2014-2015 season that saw Bakersfield College’s women’s basketball team reach the final 16 in the playoffs, the team looks to rebuild after losing all five starters, four of whom received basketball scholarships.

Alex Green (Fresno Pacific), Rosebrook Hunt (Texas A&M International), Yoemma Esparza (University of Redlands) and conference MVP and All-American Nakia Page (Our Lady of the Lakes in San Antonio) all were named to the all-conference team.

The personnel losses have piled up for the BC team as they have lost over 85 percent of their total production across the board. That includes losing 50 points per game and 30 rebounds just from their starters alone. The most noticeable loss would be that of Page, who provided a dominant post presence as she led the team in scoring and rebounding with 17.8 points and  7.7 rebounds per game.

With the inclusion of fellow sophomore Tarver, the five led BC’s team to a 23-5 overall record and 11-2 in the Western State Conference-South Division.

“At the community college level, every year is a new year so we will have to find out what and who we have for this year. That’s why I love it, even though from year to year it’s hard to be consistent,” said women’s basketball coach Paula Dahl.

Even with the loss of all five starters, Dahl still feels she has a strong team of returners and new players to balance the team.

“I haven’t had my complete team since Sept.10 so I’m just trying to learn the players’ strengths and weaknesses individually and as a team at this point,” she said.

Dahl highlighted her frontcourt in saying they may even be better than the post players she had the year before. She expects players such as Mackenzie Teveli, Nicki Bragg and Jacque Oats to shoulder the load inside for the Renegades.

“We’ve got three great post players who as a whole can be even better than the ones we had last year, but it’s a process I’m developing roles and jobs. Really we won’t know until we play some meaningful games,” said Dahl.

There will also be a lack of out-of-area talent on the team this year as no new transfers joined the team. Dahl was looking for outside help in managing her backcourt after losing Esparza, the team leader in assists.

The team will look inward to three-point specialist Mckaeila Tyler, who is the team’s returning leader in every major statistical category to run the point guard duties for the team as she takes on a more expanded roll.

BC runs a lot of fast break offenses that rely on strong point guard play and athletic wing players that adds to the need for Tyler to increase her output this season and hopefully grow into a team leader, according to Dahl.

Dahl is hoping that the players will improve together and will develop roles on their own.

“I’m looking for girls to step up and become team leaders,” she said.

The team will have to also improve defensively, said Dahl, as they were exposed in preseason exhibition games to stay in front of the opponent and learning defensive positions. However, Dahl wasn’t committal on how she thought the season would play out. She does hope fans will have patience with this year’s team.

“We run the old UNLV Runnin’ Rebels offense so it’s fun to watch,” Dahl said. “Just call us the Runagades. We are looking to run the other team off the floor, and I think we have the athletes to really do that this year.”

The team opens the season with a rematch against Irvine Valley on Nov. 6 at home for the Bakersfield Crossover. Irvine Valley knocked BC out of the second round of the playoffs last year and is coached by a former college teammate of Dahl’s adding fuel to the fire for the Renegades.

“Trust me, I want this one ,and I know the girls do, too,” laughed Dahl.