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Lady Falcons ready to fly high in hoops again

By: Mike Ray
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Now in his sixth season at the helm of the Colfax Lady Falcons’ girls basketball program, coach Rich Simpton has Colfax girls hoops on the rise again.

With a record of 103-44 over the last five seasons, including keeping the current Sac-Joaquin Section record alive with 36 straight playoff appearances, the Lady Falcons enter this season coming off a banner 2017–18 campaign.

If you have a short memory, here’s what the Colfax girls accomplished last season:

The team’s 26-5 overall record was the most wins by a Colfax team since the 2005–06 squad went 26-6.

The CIF Division V section title that the Lady Falcons won last season – the school’s ninth all-time CIF crown – was the school’s first blue banner since the 2004 season.

The advancement to the second round of the CIF Northern California Division IV Regional tourney was the farthest that the Lady Falcons had been at the state level since the 2009–10 season.

And, despite losing some key parts to graduation, there’s guarded optimism in the Colfax camp that if the team can stay healthy and keep improving, that the Lady Falcons could be a team to watch this season.

“We’ll be a different team in the way we play this season,” noted Simpton. “We’re smaller this year so, we want to play at a quicker pace.”

One of Colfax’s big losses was the departure via graduation of 6-foot-2 pivot Caleigh McClenahan, who averaged nearly 13 points and 13 rebounds a contest last season. She is now playing on scholarship at Dickinson State in North Dakota.

“Caleigh did a great job for us,” said Simpton of his former three-year varsity player. “We’ll really miss her size and presence inside this season.”

After a successful summer season, Colfax is off to a 3-1 start after losing a close opener to D-II power Del Oro and then sweeping three games to win the Gold Rush Classic in Santa Rosa.

The Lady Falcons return starters Grace Bliss (16 points, 10 rebounds per game), point guard Natalie Lundberg (four assists a game) and swing player Aliya McCord. Both Lundberg and McCord are sophomores.

Also returning for the Colfax squad are sophomore guard Jazzy Owens, who played in 31 games last season and is one of the team’s top perimeter shooters, and senior Amber Hult. Meanwhile, expected to provide punch right away up from the JV squad are junior forwards Stella Chavez and Emily Cerna.

Adding depth to the squad is senior guard Sara Detwiler, an All-League tennis and volleyball player, who returns to the court after not playing last season.   

With only eight players listed on his roster, Simpton knows that staying healthy is a big concern.

“It’s a long season, so staying healthy is one of our big concerns,” said the Colfax coach. “But hopefully, if we can do that, we should be fun to watch.”