The first glimpse of the new-look Garden City Community College women’s basketball team comes at 6 p.m. Friday in the Buster Shootout at Conestoga Arena.
It will be first-year head coach Charinee Mitchell’s debut at GCCC, after four seasons at Cisco (Texas). She was hired in May, taking over the program from Nick Salazar, who resigned in March.
To help the transition in her first year, Mitchell brought over three of her players from Cisco, in Kala Jones, Shakendra Tilley and Jada Washington.
She also has a pair of returners from last season in Monica Barefield and Jessica Carrillo, who both started for the Busters en route to a 10-21 record. Mitchell also added a transfer from Tyler (Texas), DeJanie Graves.
“From a leader standpoint, I think the biggest thing is they’ve had a year of college basketball,” Mitchell said of her six sophomores.
The rest of the Busters’ roster is comprised of freshmen.
Garden City High School graduate Aerianna Steinmetz is joined by Abigail Green, Talia Roberts, Kelly McHenry, Kelsey Parr, Daz’Monique Johnson and Amaya Martin. Eight of the Busters’ 13 active players are from Texas.
The 5-foot-10 Tilley was listed as a guard for Cisco last season, scoring 2.0 points per game in 27 games. She averaged 18 minutes per game. Jada Washington is a 5-5 guard who scored 3.6 peg, averaging 15.5 minutes in 25 games. Kala Jones is a 5-11 center, and she averaged 5.1 ppg in 15.9 minutes per game last season. At Tyler, Graves, a 5-5 guard, scored 3.9 ppg in 31 appearances.
Last season, Barefield led the Busters with 13.2 ppg, starting in 28 and averaging 32.7 minutes. Carrillo averaged 8.1 ppg, starting in 29 games and averaging 28.8 minutes. Barefield had minor knee surgery during the summer, and will be out until mid- to late November, Mitchell said.
“It’s just getting to know each other again,” Carrillo said of how the Busters have been gelling so far this season. “It’s a whole different team, so it’s getting used to how everybody plays, their style of play and just piece the puzzle together.”
It’s also adapting to Mitchell’s style of play.
“I like to get up and down the floor fast,” she said. “I like to trap defensively. I like to press defensively. We like to make people uncomfortable.”
It’s defense that will be the focus Friday night, when the Busters host Trinidad State (Colo.) Junior College.
“Good defense is the biggest thing, and just communication,” she said. “That ties directly into defense. What will give me that answer is our fouls … If you’re talking and keeping your hands off people, you don’t foul. And honestly, we’ve been struggling with that.”
Mitchell’s 2016-17 team allowed just 52.3 points per game, top 30 in the NJCAA.