Key returning players shape WBB


Kimberly LaRiviere, Staff Reporter

This year’s women’s basketball team has three key returning players – Valerie Huerta, a sophomore point guard; Tori Maeda, a redshirt junior guard; and Samantha Bowman, a redshirt senior center. 

Assistant coach Jessica Richardson is looking forward to what these key returning players will bring to this basketball season. 

“They definitely impacted last year and they had a huge part in what we did last year,” said Richardson. “We’re excited to have them again and to see where they take this team for this year.” 

Head coach, Randi Richardson-Thornely said that the key returning players give confidence to the newcomers. 

“They have a lot of experience and give confidence to the rest of the team,” said Richardson-Thornley. “They can be calm, cool and collected under pressure because they know our system and have confidence in our plays.”

Both Richardson and Richardson-Thornley agree that the key returning players influence and shape practices and game plays. 

“Valerie is only a sophomore but she had a lot of experience last year,” Richardson said.“We lean a lot on Sam and Tori, as our captains this year, to be able to help the younger class play to the level we expect. They bring a lot of experience, leadership, and energy to practice.” 

Richardson said that during games, what’s great about the returning players is that they all have different strengths.

“Tori is a great shooter and also a great facilitator,” Richardson said. “She gets the ball into the hands of who we want it to get to. Valerie can knock it in from past the three point line, she has a lot of different assets and can get a bucket when she wants. Sam is an all-American and has great moves. She can score inside but she can also score from the outside. 

Richardson-Thornley said having the returning players also gives confidence to the coaching staff. 

“We have great returning players this year and that’s the goal, to have a long succession of returning players,” Richardson-Thornley said. “As a coach, you develop those same skills in the new players as what the key-returning players have.”

The short term goal for this year, Richardson-Thornley said, is to improve and challenge themselves every single day and ultimately achieve the long term goal of being champions. 

“Day-to-day, we want our girls to be the best they can be, we want them to compete in every single thing they do,” Richardson- Thornley said. “We also want them to be the best women they can be.”

Richardson-Thornley said that what she is looking forward to this years competition and seeing the journey as the year goes on, “It’s a really fun process,” she says.