The Solano Community College women’s basketball team continued a long-standing tradition of winning when it captured its 11th Bay Valley Conference title in 2013-14. One of the best teams in program history relied on solid teamwork, great off-court chemistry and a fun-to-watch style of play to finish just the second undefeated conference season in SCC history.
With seven sophomores back from that team, and a talented group of freshmen joining them, the Falcons are poised at another run for a title. But they are well aware of the target on their backs.
Whether they were part-time starters or role players, each returning sophomore contributed to the success of last year’s team and hopes to make an even larger contribution this year.
Going to the state tournament Final Four is the ultimate goal of each player on the team. With last year’s playoff experience under their belts, these sophomores know exactly what it takes to get there.
In order to make the dream a reality, teamwork must take center stage once again.
Leading the charge is sophomore point guard Nikki Andaya, a captain and last year’s Solano Showdown MVP, who had a remarkable freshman season. She was mentioned as an all-BVC choice at the end of last year and hopes to turn some more heads this year with her solid fundamentals. While Nikki’s stats speak for themselves, her poise and entertaining style of play will help the Falcons this season. She served as backup point guard for Solano as a freshman and will most likely serve as the starter when the season kicks off in November. Nikki is able to play other guard positions though and is strong enough to post up and get to the basket in the Falcons’ motion offense.
Kiara Beacham has worked hard over the summer to ensure she will make an impact this season. The forward improved throughout her freshman year and saw valuable playing time in the Falcons’ playoff game against Fresno City College.
Danika Carlisle has been selected as the team captain. The guard saw limited playing time as a freshman but hopes to provide valuable minutes this year. She makes smart decisions on the floor and provides great leadership on the floor, on the bench and in the locker room.
Adrianna Jones, also a captain, has the potential to be one of the top 3-point shooters in program history. As a freshman, she set the record for best 3-point percentage in a game and connected on 33 percent of her attempts. With increased speed and a more versatile offensive game, look for “Audrey” to have a sensational sophomore season.
Laura Lawson controls the paint for Solano. The center improved as the season went along and looks to be a dominant player for the Falcons as a sophomore. Laura uses her length well and has the ability to post a double-double every time she steps on the floor. With increased strength, she will be a formidable player to guard this season.
Kai Roberts was a spark off the bench last year. The guard is quick, smart and not afraid to drive to the basket and draw a foul. When Kai comes into the game she makes an immediate impact, which makes her very fun to watch.
Justice Robinson is an inside-out threat who looks to be a consistent threat this year. Justice had several breakout games as a freshman, and the coaching staff would love to call on her repeatedly at crucial points throughout the season.
Talia Champion-Benjamin is a redshirt freshman who brings valuable experience having sat out last season. While participating in practice and traveling with the team last year, she learned the ins and outs of the program, the entire offensive and defensive systems, and saw first hand what college basketball is all about. Her understanding of the game will enable her to step in and make an impact when the season tips off.
Brooke Gibbins comes from a successful Vanden High program. Her passion and understanding of what it takes to win basketball games gives her a great competitiveness that can’t be taught. She’s got good size at the guard spot and has the ability to shoot the three. Brooke will see time at the 2,3 and 4 spots.
Alexis Hines will play multiple positions for the Falcons. The Fairfield High grad is a good athlete with the ability to guard anyone on the floor. Offensively, Alexis has the ability to hit a 3-pointer. She’s also going to be relied on heavily for her rebounding skills on both ends of the floor.
Miranda Holman comes from a solid Napa High School program and has been named a captain during the preseason. Her versatility will allow her to be effective in Solano’s offense. She will be a scorer from all over the floor – from the 2-guard to the 5 – and be able to defend a variety of opponents as well. She is a smart player with a great attitude and is fundamentally sound.
Shauniece Moore will be a solid defensive presence with her long body and long arms. Alongside Laura Lawson, the tandem could cause some problems for opponents in the paint. Shauniece is a smart player who sees the ball well and blocks a ton of shots. Her progress through the preseason was impressive and the coaching staff is looking forward to continued improvement from this freshman.
Ajanee Rankins will use her athleticism and aggressiveness at the three guard spots. The Bethel High alum brings a scorer’s mentality to the program – she’s able to get to the basket well and has a solid jump shot as well. While she’s mainly going to see time at the guard spots, she will be able to score from everywhere within Solano’s offense.
Jainice Robinson is a tough guard and a good athlete. She’s quick and aggressive and doesn’t back down from anyone which will enable her to adjust to the college game fast. Her defensive ball pressure will be valuable when Solano applies its full-court pressure.
Kellie Williams is another fundamentally sound player from Napa High. She will be effective on both sides of the floor and will be especially effective in Solano’s pressure defense scenarios. Her athleticism is most impressive when she runs the floor.
Though Solano gets a relatively late start to the season compared to other California community college teams, once it starts, it’s a whirlwind.
Solano will tip off the season for the final time at the Santa Barbara MTXE Tournament. This is the last year of the event and Solano hopes to go out on top. The Falcons have advanced to the championship game two of the last three years while playing against some of the South’s top competition.
The Falcons then face perhaps the biggest challenge of the preseason when it heads to Visalia to play in the Tom Gilcrest Invitational at College of Sequoias. The four-day tournament features some of the top programs – and the top players for that matter – in the state. The trip gives the team a chance to bond away from home, but gets a chance to gauge where they stand as a team on the floor.
The Falcons finally open the 14-15 season at home when the 20th annual Solano Showdown opens in mid-December. The tournament features teams from some of the top conferences in Northern California. Solano, the defending champion, looks to repeat for the first time since 1997-98.
The team will take a short break at Christmas before heading down to Cupertino to play in the Mike Gervasoni Memorial Classic at De Anza College. Solano is a past champion in this tournament and took third place last season. The Gervasoni event holds a special place in the Solano coaching staffs’ hearts – Matt Borchert and George Molina both served as assistant coaches under the late Mike Gervasoni.
The Bay Valley Conference season gets underway just days after the Gervasoni tournament ends. Now with the most titles in BVC history, Solano has established itself as a perennial power. Every team in the conference will be looking to dethrone the defending champions who will have played a tough non-conference schedule to get ready for its BVC season.
The conference coaches made one change to the schedule this year. All games are still doubleheaders with the men’s basketball team, but the women’s games will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. in the second half of the season instead of 5:30 p.m.
The Falcons are excited to offer special promotions throughout the year and opportunities to assist with charitable efforts. Solano will host a Food Drive for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano as well as a silent auction on Sophomore Night/Coaches vs. Cancer Night. Keep an eye out for more on these fun events as the season goes on.