Moorpark Raiders women’s basketball dominates the competition with their eyes on the state championship

Breanna Calhoun, freshman guard for Moorpark College, goes in for a layup during Moorpark's game against Cuesta College on Jan. 19, 2019. Calhoun ended the game with thirteen points and ten assists. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Breanna Calhoun, freshman guard for Moorpark College, goes in for a layup during Moorpark's game against Cuesta College on Jan. 19, 2019. Calhoun ended the game with thirteen points and ten assists. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Robert Gonzales

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The Raiders have cruised by the opposition this season, only losing one game on their way to a number one ranking in the California Community College Athletic Association.

The players shared unparalleled chemistry out of the gate, winning 22 out of their first 23 games. However, they haven’t finished achieving their goals just yet. Coach Kenny Plummer and his crew of Raiders won’t be satisfied until they capture the treasured title of state champions.

Opposing teams struggled to keep up with Moorpark’s offensive firepower. Averaging the second-highest offense in the state, their 85.2-point average led to several easy finishes. Rarely battle-tested in the fourth-quarter, their wins were always by at least 10 points.

The third-year coach has been an inspiration in the short time he’s been on staff. His first year, he led the Raiders to their first 20-win season since 2003. His second year, he shattered another drought and toppled the Ventura College Pirates for their first win against their rival in over 27 years.

This year, he’s going for it all. The Raiders are eyeing state playoffs as the No. 2-ranked community college, already eclipsing their third 20-win season under his regime.

“A lot of the credit goes to them,” Plummer said. “They bought into our mission, they bought into what we stand for: creating a competitive environment, being great teammates, and working hard on and off the court.”

Plummer leaned on sophomore leadership from 2018’s Player of the Year, center Barbara Rangel, now intended for the University of Hawaii, and All-Conference guard Emily Herring.

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Madison Collins, a sophomore for Cuesta College, tries covering Emily Herring, a sophomore guard for Moorpark College, during Moorpark's home game against Cuesta on Jan. 19, 2019. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

“Emily’s the heartbeat of this team,” Plummer said. “She’s the no-nonsense, ready to work player that gets things rolling and the rest of the girls follow that.”

The All-Conference talent got an even bigger boost when they discovered freshman-guards Breanna Calhoun and three-point snipper Jazmin Carrasco. Both freshmen lead the conference in points with 18.0 points per game.

Rangel was just behind them as the fourth highest scorer with 17.2 points per game, while also leading the conference in rebounds with 14.4 per game, which is 4 rebounds more than the runner-up.

“I didn’t see how good we were until we started playing games,” Rangel said. “Once we started, I was like, ‘Woah, we actually have something really good going here.’ We can actually get far in state.”

Freshman forward Kristen Sullivan said they try to take smart plays and key in on mismatches. Their 46.8 field goal percentage was second highest in state. When they didn’t beat you inside, they kicked it outside to Carrasco. Her 95 three-pointers are also second best in the state.

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Jazzy Carrasco, a freshman guard, receives love from her team as she is announced onto the court before the women's basketball game on Jan. 19, 2019, at Moorpark College. Carrasco led the team in scoring with thirty points on the night. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

As if that wasn’t deadly enough, CCCAA’s December Athlete of the Month Calhoun played aggressively on both ends of the floor. She led the team with her quick hands and selfless play resulting in 100 steals and 143 assists, first and third in the state. Calhoun credited a connection on and off the court that led to trust in each others’ play.

“[Calhoun] came in and knows how to play with people at a high level, which makes the chemistry easy,” said Herring, about the freshman point guard.

Knowing how well they’ve played this season, they all have one goal in mind.

“Definitely, the goal is state [champions],” Calhoun said.

With a unanimous echo from the players nodding in agreement.

“It’s hard to get on top, but it’s even harder to stay on top,” Rangel said. “Knowing that we’re getting everyone’s best game is definitely a motivator, everyone wants to beat us, so we have to know that, we have to play our hardest every night.”

Moorpark’s only blemish came from a one-point loss to No. 6-ranked East Los Angeles Huskies. The Raiders uncharacteristically struggled closing out the game, going scoreless in the final three minutes.

“I think we know what we did wrong,” Calhoun said. “We fell short because of our own mistakes, but we definitely know that we can play to our best ability in the future.”

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Macey Esqueda, left, a guard for Cuesta College, attempts cover Breanna Calhoun, a freshman guard for Moorpark College, during Moorpark's home game against Cuesta on Jan. 19, 2019. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

The team bounced back from the devastating loss by blowing out their last six opponents by over 32 points in each game. They continue to assertively move forward in their quest to dethrone Ventura College as the champs of the Western State Conference North, a title Ventura has held for 28 years.

“The thing with Ventura, it’s just another game,” Rangel said. “As long as we play how we’ve been playing, we’ll be fine. We can’t let the outside noise get to us.”

“Just another roadblock to get to state,” Calhoun added in.

As if on cue, the point guard refocused her team for their one true goal this season. A chance to claim the title as Moorpark College’s first ever State Champions.

Moorpark plays Ventura this Wednesday, Feb 6, at 7 p.m. at the Moorpark College Gymnasium.

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