PORT ANGELES – Peninsula College head coach Alison Crumb and her staff will open their 2017-18 women’s basketball season Friday night with a small but talented roster.
The Pirates, who placed second in the North last year and qualified for the Northwest Athletic Conference championship tournament for the sixth straight year, open at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Centralia in the first game of the annual First Federal Pirate Classic.
Coach Crumb’s 2017-18 team features four returners from last year, a red-shirt sophomore who practiced with the team last year, a transfer sophomore from Bremerton, and six freshmen. Only seven players off that 12-player roster, however, will be on the floor this weekend.
“We have been bludgeoned with injuries, and have therefore done some extra recruiting to get two new faces here in December once they finish their current quarters,” coach Crumb said.
Back from last year are Kayla Alvarez, a 5-2 guard from Salt Lake City, Utah; Hannah Geberyesus, a 5-4 guard from Las Vegas, Nevada; Yamilei Rodriguez, a 5-9 guard from Las Vegas; and Tiffani Smith, a 5-6 guard, also from Las Vegas. Also returning is red-shirt sophomore Jamellia Clark, a 5-11 post from Las Vegas.
Joining the Pirates this year are Olivia Williams, a 5-9 sophomore transfer from Umpqua Community College who played her high school basketball at Olympic in Silverdale; Ashly Fernandez, a 5-7 freshman from Las Vegas; Jocelyn Moore, a 5-10 post from Coulee Dam, Washington; Ashlynn Sharp, a 5-8 guard from Las Vegas; and Cassandra White, a 5-9 guard from Modesto, California.
“The returners have stepped in a done a wonderful job leading this group of new faces,” Crumb said. “They really care about one another and are committed to this program and their new teammates. I’m very fortunate to be able to lean on this group moving forward.”
Coach Crumb is also pretty excited about her freshman class.
“I’m excited about the new faces that we have,” she said. “They have come in and created a big presence on the court and we hope to develop and push those players to be the best they can possibly be.”
The Pirates will have two other players joining them winter quarter in Caci Payton, a 5-7 guard, and Kirby Mikayla, also a 5-7 guard. Both are from Las Vegas.
Injuries have created some early challenges for the Pirates. Moore is sidelined with a concussion, White injured her knee earlier this fall and will miss the 2017-18 season, and a few other players are banged up.
“Because of our injuries, I did some extra recruiting to get two new faces here in December, once they finish their current quarters,” Crumb said. “Mikayla Kirby and Payton Caci will be an added boost to our backcourt, where we desperately need depth after losing our star recruit, Casandra White, to a season ending knee injury. We hope to get them ready to go as fast as possible for league play.
“Injuries are an unfortunate thing, and something we have been quite lucky with over the years, but when it rains it pours,” she added. “We just need to stay focused with the group that we have and hope that our incoming December players can help with our depth. It hasn’t been pretty this off-season, but we need to be resilient. There is no excuses around here, so we will compete to the best of our ability.”
It all starts Friday night against Centralia, and the Pirates return to their home court Sunday against Yakima at 1 p.m. in Game 6 of the First Federal Pirate Classic.
Despite her injuries, Crumb is hopeful to be playing again this year in March.
“We hope to continue to be atop our league, and get another NWAC birth,” she said. “There will be a lot of learning to do this off-season as we are low in bodies, but hopefully that will make us even better and more resilient come league play.”
Following the two home games this weekend, the Pirates will play nine straight road games before closing out their pre-season at home Jan. 5 against Lower Columbia and Jan. 6 against South Puget Sound.
North Region play gets under way Jan. 10.