Two games into the Central Valley Conference season, the class of the League has already began to distinguish itself. Merced College, Fresno and Porterville all sit atop the standings at 2-0 while COS, Reedley and Taft have started 0-2.
Merced will have its first big conference test tonight when it travels to Porterville. With defending champion NorCal No. 4 Fresno City not likely to drop too many games, coach Allen Huddleston knows any loss could dampen the Lady Devils title hopes.
Not going nearly as deep as MC, Porterville (10-12) relies heavily on its starters for points. Rachel Harrison (16 points per game), Olga Velasquez (10.9) and Chantrel Crouzet (9.3) are a formidable trio of scorers.
Statistically, the two teams score and give up similar points per game. They’ve also each had their share of failures and successes with ranked opponents. The two areas Huddleston will be looking to exploit are the Lady Devils’ size and depth.
Porterville can’t match MC centers Tineka Spencer (6-foot-2) and Laura Robinson (6-foot-1) on the inside. Getting consistent play from the post, however, has been a problem. Huddleston was furious that MC didn’t get the ball inside more in the first half of a victory over Taft on Saturday. When the Lady Devils finally started attacking the interior, Taft was already down to four players.
The Lady Devils seem to be out of their shooting funk, but defense is what carries this team. If MC can supply consistent pressure to a Porterville team that only goes about half as deep as it, Porterville could wear down late.
Merced College Women’s Basketball at Porterville
Time: 5 p.m.
Records: MC 2-0 CVC, 12-11; Porterville 2-0 CVC, 10-12
Scoring Leaders: MC — Tiara Dunson 10 ppg, Tineka Spencer 8.4 ppg, Tanisha White 7.1; Porterville — Rachel Harrison 16 ppg, Olga Velasquez 10.9 ppg, Chantrel Crouzet 9.3
Outlook: The two teams matchup very evenly in terms of numbers and quality showings against some tough competition. Merced College holds the edge in terms of size. If the Lady Devils use Tineka Spencer (6-foot-2) and Laura Robinson (6-foot-1) effectively inside, they should steal a big road win.