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Central Valley girls striving for breakout season
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Central Valley High School fielded its first-ever varsity girls basketball team in 2006-07.

The Hawks have yet experience a winning season, compiling a 14-61 overall record.

Will CV reach unprecedented heights this year?

"This is the most talented group we've had since the school opened," head coach Jesse Padilla said. "We just got to put it all together."

Six players from a season ago, including Phylicia Martinez (senior center), Amanda Lopez (senior center/forward), Gigi Sahota (senior guard), Jessica Rodriguez (senior guard), Alyssa Long (junior guard/forward) and Lizette Covarrubias (junior guard).

The Hawks welcome six newcomers: Vivien Fermil (sophomore guard), Anicia Camarillo (junior guard), Myra Naranjo (junior guard), Eva Noorzai (junior forward), Melissa Minerva (junior center/forward) and Cherise Azevedo (junior guard).

Fermil, Camarillo, Naranjo, Noorzai and Minerva propelled Central Valley's frosh-soph girls team to a 10-6 record in conference play last year.

Azevedo transferred from Ceres High.

Martinez, Long, Noorzai, Naranjo and Sahota start.

"We can get scoring from anyone of those five," Padilla said.

Which player or players will provide leadership?

Julie Calderon filled that role the past three seasons. The 2009 Central Valley graduate averaged 13.3 points per game during her career.

She earned first-team, all-conference honors as a junior. Calderon helped the Hawks secure their first-ever conference victory on Jan. 22, 2008 when she buried a turnaround jumper from near the foul line as time expired to upset Manteca. The 44-43 road win snapped a 20-game losing streak. Julie totaled 22 points, three steals and two assists.

"She was always the first one at practice and the last to leave," Padilla said. "We'll never see another one of her. It was like having another coach on the court. When she talked, all of the other girls listened."

Central Valley will be striving for its first winning record in program history. The Hawks want to finish in the top half of the Valley Oak League standings. They have a combined record of 4-38 in conference play the last three years.

"I think it's a realistic goal," Long said. "We have to stay determined and put our mind to it. No matter who we play, I have faith in my team. We have so much talent."

"We had a good summer," Padilla said. "We hope to build on that."