By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Last season playing with Central Wyoming College had taught 2021 South Salem-grad Malyah Bolden a few lessons before she transferred back to Oregon, now playing for her hometown Chemeketa Community College this season.
“Just bringing in some experience from my past college and coming home is nice,” Bolden starts. “I got a taste of what (college basketball) is like at the other levels out there, the pressure and the competition. But I love (being back). This is where my family is and I know they’ll be here to support me. I know a lot of these girls too, just having that bond all on the court is really great.”
Bolden, who averaged 4.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 27 games and 7 starts last season with the Ruckers, is one of two transfers that came into the Salem-based Storm. The other being Kira Rankin from nearby Willamina, having played at Southwestern Oregon Community College last season where she averaged4.8 points, 2.6 rebound and 1,5 assists a game for the Lakers last season before transferring to Chemeketa this year.
Celi Vasquez of Gervais and Jenna Glenzel of South Eugene are the Storm’s lone two returners from their sophomore-heavy squad from last Winter. Chemeketa went 12-12 and 7-9 in NWAC South play. Jiana Smith-Francis, from Madras High School, is the squad’s other sophomore who hope to use their balance of freshmen and sophomores as they are three games into their young season. Freshman that include 2021 Saxon-grad, Jacquie Wadsworth, ,coming off a year off. A welcomed familiar face points Bolden as the two former Saxons get to play one more season together.
“It’s awesome because people who supported us back at South can now support us here at Chemeketa,” Bolden said.
Rankin’s sister Kena is on the roster as well as Salem Academy’s Bailey Pedersen, Woodburn’s Aria Kent, Stayton’s Karlee Tyler and Natalie Hobbs (North Eugene) and Ryleigh Nofzinger (Central Linn) all represent the younger wave of Storm, looking to carry over the momentum they all build at the High School-level now to the Collegiate Level.
For Kent, it was a matter of working on her communication skills, something she portrayed during practice on Monday with the next game coming up on Friday afternoon.
“It was a lot of communication for me, so that helped me to set me up to just do what I need what I need to do. Here, I’ll just do what I did there, even if it means I’m not the best or the Captain, I still have a role and part to play,” Kent describes.
Sitting at 1-2 on the season going back to work Monday evening on campus, they prepare for a rematch with the Pacific JV squad on the road and their NWAC Crossover tournament this weekend at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington. Using what they learned in their first three games to improve on as Chemeketa looks to snap their two game-skid in a few days.
It definitely helped us see where our weaknesses and strengths are. We’re just learning how to work as a team and how we’re all working together, so those (games) really helped us see where we’re at right now,” Kent said.
The Storm host a NWAC Crossover December 15-17 to close out non-league play before NWAC South play starts January 4 at Southwestern Oregon Community College.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald