2018-19 GCC Women's Basketball; A season to remember
The 2018-19 season for the GCC Women's Basketball Team ended Saturday at Moorpark College not with sadness and disappointment but with appreciation and applause. For that reason, a simple recap of the game is not enough of a way to chronicle what they accomplished this year.
It was a truly daunting task to face the No. 1 ranked team in the state on its home floor and Moorpark was as good as advertised as the 79-66 final score would indicate. The Lady Vaqs had also suffered their first loss of the season to the Raiders way back on Nov. 11, 73-54 but that result was just a distant memory as both teams got better and better as the season progressed.
The Lady Vaqs style of play evolved over the 28 game season and while not always seamless and fluid, was always interesting and exciting enough to finish 22-6, win its first ever Western State Conference Eastern Division Championship as well as winning the Allan Hancock and the inaugural Glendale College Vaqueros Holiday Tournaments. The finals win over Trade Tech, 75-68, cemented the Lady Vaqs as a team on the rise and one of the best in Southern California.
In a packed Verdugo Gym, the Lady Vaqs were at their best against one of the best teams in the stat and never let up. It was a seminal victory for Glendale, its ninth straight after the loss to Moorpark, and the home fans were on their feet saluting its squad over achievers and thankful for its early Christmas present on Dec. 21, 2018.
While the season could be looked at in just in terms of wins, losses and statistics, a closer look would provide a glimpse of what it takes to be successful and how the formula took them all the way to the third round of the Southern California Regionals. It starts with hard work, buying into the process and accountability as preached by head coach Joel Weiss.
After the emotional win over Trade Tech, Weiss watched with dismay as his team dropped three straight games to El Camino by four points, Pasadena by five and West L.A. by three. And no matter that the margins of defeat were small and that GCC was still 11-4 and al four losses were to teams who would make the playoff, it became a teaching opportunity as the Lady Vaqs got back to basics to win 10 straight and the WSC East Title as well.
And for all the highs and lows this season, it was not an overconfident group that took the floor against Moorpark after being El Camino on its home floor in a second round contest but a squad that tightly held on to each other during the National Anthem and press on with the belief that if they played like they practiced, they could beat the best team in the state.
And it almost worked.
Trailing 6-0 and 8-2 at the outset, Glendale fought, scratched and clawed its way back to even at 31-31 early in the second quarter before a late run by the home team gave them a 45-37 at the half and cut that to 45-43 early in the third quarter. Late game heroics were nothing new to GCC this season but it was not to be on this night as the home team boasting three all-state players simply had too much firepower against the never say die Lady Vaqs.
It seemed poignant that starting All-WSC East sophomores Cheyenne Jankulovski and Sylvia Vartazarian refused to leave the floor when stricken by leg cramps while there was still time on the clock and their teammates counting on them. And freshman Tess Oakley-Stilson played perhaps her best game of the year scoring 22 points and doing all the little things to help her team.
They were not the same group when they left as the team that arrived as watery eyes and slumped shoulders were evident but they played their hearts out and left it all out on the court. But the fan base that traveled to see the game and included GCC administrators, former coaches, parents, family and friends as well as several members of the GCC Men's Basketball Team supported them at every turn during this game and throughout the season.
So what we take away from this in the end is a team that maybe overachieved on its way to a dream season, a coach who probably needs a vacation but won't take one and a fan base that grew and grew in terms of endearment for a team that was not only fun to watch but had fun playing and it showed.
And we appreciate them very much for that.