H-SPORTS

Feb 21, 2013 5:13 PM by Andrew Masuda

Cuesta women earn shot at program history Saturday

The Cuesta College women's basketball program is preparing for a shot at program history. The Lady Cougars close out the regular season Saturday at home against first place Ventura. With a victory, the Cougars could score a share of their first-ever Western State Conference title. Cuesta joined the WSC in 1983 and has posted five runner-up finishes, but have not finished higher than third in 16 years.

Cuesta entered the week ranked 11th in the Southern Region and debuted in the State poll at #19. Cuesta is 7-2 in WSC play, while Ventura, the #2 ranked team in the state, is 8-1 in league. Cuesta has not beaten the Bucs since 1995.

Third year head coach Ron Barba has guided the Cougars to a 19-9 overall mark and a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2008. He's done it all with just seven active players. He's lost several to injuries and other factors. "I think this group has totally exceeded my expectations especially when we had the injuries at the beginning of the year. I knew as a coach I had to work twice as hard to get them to work hard for me," said Barba.

A few weeks ago, the Cougars won a thriller despite having just five available players in the fourth quarter and all five had four personal fouls.

"We have seven who can officially play. Usually kids with that small amount on a team don't really go that far. So it's amazing that the most kids we have can work so hard and get to the top like this," said sophomore guard Alyssa Palma. The Atascadero High graduate leads the team with 14.3 points per game.

"It's our first time in so long and I'm just really hoping we can pull through and get the championship. It'd be like the best sophomore present ever," added star Aria Johnson, who's averaging 14 points and 9 rebounds per contest.

Courtney Chadwick is also averaging 14 points per game for Cuesta.

So far this season, Cuesta is undefeated at home.

The Lady Cougars play at 7 pm on Saturday. The men close out the regular season at 5pm.

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