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CV girls hoops has nowhere to go but up after winless 2020-21 season
Makayla Dennison and Alyssa Rojo
Makayla Dennison, Alyssa Rojo and Central Valley High School’s girls basketball team will target improvement this year. The Hawks failed to win a game last season. - photo by Dale Butler

Second-year coach Ryan Donnelly is trying to build Central Valley High School’s girls basketball program back to where it once was.

He knows it’s going to take time and patience.

“I’m committed to staying here,” Donnelly said. “I have a vision of where I want to see the program in five years. And that’s becoming a winning program again.”

The Hawks have nowhere to go but up this winter after compiling an 0-8 record during the 2020-21 COVID-shortened campaign.

“We have experience,” Donnelly said. “We have a bench now. That allows us to play more aggressive with the press. The chemistry has grown. They spend a lot of time together inside and outside of school. That’s going to make a big difference this year.”

Central Valley returns six players from last year’s team, including Rina Dulay (Sr.), Karol Alvarez (Jr.), Makayla Dennison (Jr.), Liana Guzman (Jr.), Delia Vidal (Jr.) and Kareena Kang (So.).

Carmen Caranza (Sr.), Neida Delgado (Sr.), Jasman Kaur (Sr.), Alyssa Rojo (Sr.), Tatyanna Valencia (Sr.), Alondra Carrillo (Jr.) and Aleecia Silva (Jr.) are newcomers.

“We’re spending more time teaching them the fundamentals of basketball,” Donnelly stated. “We’re focusing on their skill level, IQ and knowledge of the game. That will help turn the program around.”

Caranza, Kaur, Rojo and Valencia split time at the varsity and frosh-soph levels during the 2019-20 school year. They opted to not play this past season for COVID-safety reasons.

Silva transferred from Turlock’s Pitman High School.

Kang and Valencia have been tapped to serve as team captains.

“I selected both of them,” Donnelly said. “Tatyanna is our on-court coach. Kareena also helps all the players.”

Central Valley will compete in the Central California Conference this season, along with Patterson, Atwater, Buhach Colony, Merced, Golden Valley and El Capitan.

The Hawks were previously members of the CCC from 2018-20.

“It’s definitely a tougher league. It’s going to be a bigger challenge for us. We’ll get to test where we’re at.”
Coach Ryan Donnelly

“It’s definitely a tougher league,” Donnelly said. “It’s going to be a bigger challenge for us. We’ll get to test where we’re at.”

Central Valley spent this past year in the WAC South Division for COVID-safety reasons. 

Playoffs were canceled for all sports during the 2020-21 school year because of a late start to the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Central Valley secured its last postseason berth in 2016-17. The Hawks went 11-13 and finished second in the Western Athletic Conference standings (7-3).

Central Valley had a combined record of 5-60 the three seasons before Donnelly’s promotion to head coach.

Donnelly replaced Jesse Padilla, who led the Hawks to 131 wins, three conference titles and five playoff appearances during his 14 years at the helm.

“We didn’t win a game last year,” Donnelly said. “Our team consisted mostly of freshmen and sophomores. We have more experience this year. Our expectation is to improve our weak points and strengthen our strong points. I do believe we’ll see more wins.”