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December 11, 2023

Local hoops talent stocks Rams

Women 0-2 but playing tough as Gavilan basketball season
Despite back-to-back home losses to open their season last week
against Yuba City College and the College of the Siskiyous, Gavilan
Rams Women’s Basketball Coach Michelle Mannisto is not discouraged
by her team’s play.
Women 0-2 but playing tough as Gavilan basketball season opens

Despite back-to-back home losses to open their season last week against Yuba City College and the College of the Siskiyous, Gavilan Rams Women’s Basketball Coach Michelle Mannisto is not discouraged by her team’s play.

In fact, Mannisto believes that her young squad will be playoff-bound by the end of the season.

“We did a lot better than I expected,” said Mannisto. “We should have won the first game, and the second game should have been a lot closer. But the girls were extremely nervous and had a ton of turnovers because of it. Right now, they’re just getting their feet wet. They have a ton of potential, though, and are very coachable.”

On Friday night, the Rams fell 45-32 to Yuba then succumbed to the Screamin’ Eagles on Saturday afternoon by a score of 76-42.

Next Wednesday, the 0-2 Rams will look to rebound from their early losses against Lassen College in Susanville. But picking up a road win won’t be easy. Lassen is ranked ninth in the state.

“We have a difficult schedule and play a lot of ranked teams,” Mannisto said. “I purposely made it that way so we can see what we’re working towards. My whole emphasis this year will be on defense. Defense is the biggest thing we have to offer. Offensively, we are not great. But if we can improve our defense we will beat some teams. We want to get as many wins as possible, but we will look for our sports to pick our battles.”

Last season the Rams finished with a record of 12-15-good enough totals for a playoff berth-but were forced to forfeit the whole season as a result of an administrative error on the school’s athletic eligibility sheet that accidentally listed a sophomore player as a freshman with the state.

This year Mannisto is relying on a nine-player roster made up of eight freshmen and one sophomore.

In the point-guard slot for the Rams is Stacey Perrien. A graduate of San Benito High School, the 5-foot-6 Perrien will play a key role in the Ram backcourt.

“She handles the ball well and can drive and score,” said Mannisto. “Right now, she’s learning to read defenses and make decisions. She’s used to running a robot offense-never looking to read the opponents defense first then make decisions. She’ll spend a whole lot of time breaking the press.”

Another graduate of San Benito High’s Class of 2002, Nichole Donley, will work the floor across from her old teammate. So far, Mannisto likes Donley’s tenacity and hard work on defense.

“Defensively, she is very good. Sometimes she gets overly aggressive and can get into foul trouble, but she’s good and can hit from outside as well.”

In the first two games of the season, Donley hit three-point shots in each.

Another player who will see time in the Ram backcourt is Noreen Bailey, another Hollister graduate that has not played since her sophomore year but led the Rams in scoring against the Siskiyous with 18 points.

“She can shoot and play defense,” said Mannisto. “She’s great on the ball and the first pass. She wasn’t even looking to score and got 18 points the other day. Once she gets to that point, she could score 30 a game.”

Gilroy High graduate Kisha Webster is slated as the Rams center this season but could see some time in the backcourt when the opposition is in a press.

“She handles the ball well,” said Mannisto. “She has a lot of potential-very quick and strong. It’s really beyond me why she didn’t play much for Gilroy High. She scores off the block well and is working on her hook to the inside.”

Webster was the Rams’ leading rebounder in the first two games and scored 10 points in the opener and 13 in the second game.

The only sophomore on the team is Antoinette Bowe. A graduate of Gilroy High, Bowe will see the majority of her playing time in the forward position.

“She has a lot of experience against good teams,” said Mannisto. “Last year, we only had six players, so she’s seen a lot of playing time. She cuts to the ball well. We’re working on her defensive skills right now.”

Another player who will see some time at forward is Andrea Lupin, a left-handed shooter who graduated from Live Oak last May. Lupin scored six points in the game against the Screamin’ Eagles

“She’s a good shooter,” said Mannisto. “But she needs to work harder on the defensive end to get into the top (starting) five.”

Another player coming off the bench for Gavilan is Kristen Rennard. A graduate of Gilroy High, Rennard played softball but never organized basketball.

So far, Mannisto is most impressed with her commitment to learn the game.

“Just on work ethic alone, she should have the fifth starting spot,” said Mannisto. “She’s good at rebounding and playing defense, but she’s still learning the game.”

Mannisto went on to say that the starting lineup is far from etched in stone and that many players will rotate in and out throughout the season.

“I think we have a great team with a lot of talent,” said Mannisto. “I’m really excited about this season and like what I see so far.”

Staff Report
Staff Report
A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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