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CV girls move forward without star point guard
Senior Blanca Espinoza will start at point guard for Central Valleys varsity girls basketball team this winter. Espinoza contributed off the bench last season. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Mikayla Mabie's production and leadership will be missed this winter as Central Valley's varsity girls basketball program moves forward without its all-time greatest player.

The current Fresno City College standout freshman point guard averaged 13.9 points, 10.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game en route to being voted Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player during her final season with the Hawks.

"Mikayla's a great person to learn from when you're watching her on the court," Central Valley senior Blanca Espinoza said. "She's basketball smart. She knows when to pass, drive and shoot. She looks at all her options."

Espinoza, WAC Defensive Player of the Year in girls volleyball this past fall, will start in place of Mabie.

"It's a big role to fill," Blanca said. "You have to be able to help the whole team. You have to have everybody's best interest."

Espinoza averaged 6.0 points and 4.5 rebounds as a reserve guard her junior year.

"Last year, I was really timid in what I'd do," she said. "I had Mikayla to help me. Now, I have to take action and charge of the court. I have confidence in myself. I can achieve anything I put my mind to. I need to be more vocal. But we all need to talk. It will make a big difference."

Senior Adria Robinson, a second-team all-conference player in volleyball, will also fill a bigger role.

Robinson averaged 8.1 points and 7.7 rebounds at center/forward as a junior.

Adria earned honorable-mention accolades.

"He (coach Jesse Padilla) expects more out of me," Robinson said. "I have to step up."

Alexis Contreras (Sr.), Delores Uti (Sr.), Laiza Diaz (Jr.), Rosie Duarte (Jr.), Chetna Kumar (Jr.) Mahogany Simon (Jr.) and Sunaina Dhillon (So.) round out Central Valley's roster.

Central Valley qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs for second year in a row, posted an 18-8 overall record and finished first overall in the WAC standings (11-1) under Padilla's guidance a year ago.

He also led the Hawks to back-to-back conference titles during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

Central Valley edged crosstown-rival Ceres High twice last winter.

The Hawks won the second meeting, 45-43, versus the Bulldogs.

Central Valley edged Ceres High 44-43 during the first meeting.

The Hawks improved their all-time record against the Bulldogs to 11-10.

"We have the capability of getting there," Robinson said when asked if the Hawks would qualify for the playoffs for the third year in a row. "We got to have confidence in each other and want it."

"It's a team sport," Espinoza added. "If we work together, we can accomplish it. We all want to win."