WATERTOWN — When the Jefferson Community College women’s basketball team enters an opposing gym, they’re bound to be underestimated. With only eight women on the roster, they have the second smallest squad in the NJCAA Region III — only Clinton CC has less with seven.
But when opponents see them take the floor, they will be shook.
The Cannoneers return their top three scorers from last season — Chelsey Raven (14.4 points per game), Alyson Crosby (13.5) and Ashlyn Eyles (12.0) — when they went 19-7 and made it to the Region III championship game.
“I honestly think people are going to see us run out and see eight girls and think this is a piece of cake, but honestly I think we’re going to give them a run for it,” Eyles said. “We know what we have to do, we’re not going to be the team that in the fourth quarter when we’re tired, we’re going to give up. I know our team and our team is not going to give up, it’s something we’re not going to do.”
Last season the Cannoneers had 11 players on the roster that not only helped in games but made practicing easier as well. But, this is not the first time that coach Josh Woodward has had a team with this few players on the roster.
“Last year, obviously we had a really good year but one of our second-best year before that we only had seven,” Woodward said. “So there have been a couple of years where we have had seven or eight for the duration.”
With only eight, Woodward has had to pull people from outside the program to help out with practice.
“Practices get tough, there is only so much that you can do,” Woodward said. “We do a lot of skill work anyway, and then a couple of times a week we’ll have a few people come in as a practice team pretty much. In years past we’ve had baseball players or local kids who have played before that are in the area kind of come in and be a body for us. We’ll do that a couple of times a week, that’s what we’ve done this October pretty much.”
Raven, along with leading the team in points, led the Cannoneers last season in minutes per game with 30.7. With three less players, that number is bound to go up. On top of reclaiming the Mid-State Athletic Conference title that JCC won last year, Raven’s personal goal is pretty simple: “get buckets.” She also mentioned improving her rebounding. As one of the three sophomores on the team,
“We pick up the pace in practice, we try to get everyone in shape, because we don’t have a choice. Everyone has to play,” Raven said. “Last year was a little different, we had a deep bench and a lot of subs.”
The Cannoneers will have five freshmen on the team: Bailey Zicari, Skyler Trumble, Izzy Soluri, Lily Adkins and Mattilynne Hough. Zicari showed off her speed in scrimmages over the weekend, something that can be a serious threat for the Cannoneers.
“I’ve always been the shortest one on the court, so my biggest strength is my speed so I try to push the tempo on defense, which picks up the whole game,” Zicari said. “We’re all pretty fast. We’re not that big of a team so we have to use our speed.”
In junior college, you become a veteran quickly. The three sophomores are already being leaned on as leaders and mentors for the freshman class.
“The girls last year were very helpful in transitioning us from high school to college ball, because it’s a lot different,” Crosby said. “So, (we’re)just trying to be there for the freshmen and help them through all the questions they have because we know what that feels like.”
The JCC women will begin its season tonight at Genesee CC.
Coach: Josh Woodward (Ninth year)
2018-19 Record: 19-7 overall, 9-3 Mid-State Athletic Conference
Roster: Bailey Zicari (Fr., G); Skyler Trumble (Fr., G); Ashlyn Eyles (So., G); Izzy Soluri (Fr., G); Lily Adkins (Fr., G); Mattilynne Hough (Fr., F); Alyson Crosby (So., F); Chelsey Raven (So., F).
Outlook: With only four sophomores on the roster including local athletes, Liam Bonk (Indian River) and Jake Hess (South Jefferson), men’s coach Joe Vaadi will have a primarily rookie team for 2019. Joining the Cannoneers from area will be Damon Blaha (Lyme) and Kyle Nichols (General Brown). Nichols, a 6-foot-3 forward, was an aggressive player in high school, but is learning how to become more aggressive at the college level.
“It’s crazy the difference, this is just junior college but there are some big guys out here, it’s a lot different,” Nichols said. “You can’t just use your height anymore, you have to use a lot of technique and fundamentals.”
The JCC men’s team will begin its season tonight at Genesee CC.
Coach: Joe Vaadi (Seventh year)
2018-19 Record: 7-20 overall, 5-6 Mid-State Athletic Conference
Roster: Isiah Murphy (Fr., G); Kenyen Epps (Fr., G); Justin Omaga (Fr., G); Howard Turner (Fr., G); Eugene Campbell (So., F); Wes Corr (Fr., G); Jaden Bruce (Fr., F); Liam Bonk (So., F); Dysheen Harrell (Fr., G), Jalen Stewart (Fr., G), Samori Alexander (Fr., F); Jake Hess (So., G); Damon Blaha (Fr., G); Joshua Newman (So., F); Kyle Nichols (Fr., F); Aeneas Green (Fr., G).