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Sierra women still standing tall

Sierra beginning to heat up as Big 8 Conference play gets underway
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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It’s tough to develop cohesion and chemistry with a crop of new basketball players that gets smaller each week. Just ask Sierra College women’s coach Brandie Murrish. The Wolverines began the season with 18 players on their roster, but injuries and departures depleted Sierra. The new now has 11 players. But a 2-0 start in Big 7 Conference play, including a 60-47 win Friday night at Sacramento City, has boosted the Wolverines’ confidence. “In the preseason we had a lot coming at us as a team,” said freshman guard Tyler Divine, who was a four-year varsity player at Colfax. “Just winning both of our conference games so far is big for us. Now that we’re this far into the season, we’re more of a team.” Divine is part of a flock of freshmen that is hoping to maintain Sierra’s stout tradition. The Wolverines went 27-7 last season after finishing second in the state in 2007. They are 12-10 overall this year. A 5-9 wing player, Divine is a defensive stopper and a playmaker on the offensive end. She leads the team in assists and steals. “Coach always says that defense is my strength,” Divine said. “On offense, I usually just draw in the defense and then pass it off.” Sophomores Jasmine Howlett and Ciera Foster were the only players who had seen significant playing time at the college level heading into the season. Sierra coach Brandie Murrish reloaded with talent from all over the region. Paradise products Chelsea Ruscillo and Kayla Hines have played well. Ponderosa graduate Breanna Rizzo has filled in nicely in the post and Will C. Wood grad Darla Bishop has added scoring punch. Divine had planned on playing at Sonoma State, but she changed her mind, opting to stay closer to her family. After four years with the Falcons, joining her new teammates at Sierra took some getting used to. “When I came to Sierra I didn’t know anybody,” Divine said. “It was tough. I went into it kind of nervous, but we all came together really fast. We’re all pretty close.” Sierra is back in action Tuesday, facing Cosumnes River on the road.