Lady Trojans look to be in the mix in the Mission Division


Dan Perez

Against Salinas High December 8, 2021, Karizma Ruiz drives to the basket. The Trojans fell 61-71. “I’m looking forward to showing what we could do and having an amazing season with my best friends,” Ruiz said.

Since winning a league title in the Mission Division of the PCAL in 2020, the girls’ basketball program has dealt with some changes. 

They were able to play a shortened season last year during COVID-19, but they saw their best player, Mikaela Arista, and her dad, head coach Humberto Arista leave. 

Richard Solis was tapped to be the next coach, but was unable to due to a cancer diagnosis in October, which also took him out of the classroom.

This left Athletic Director Jose Gil to scramble to find someone who could step in on short notice, since practice had just started.  Claudia Moran, plans to maintain their winning ways. “My goal for this 2021-2022 season is win the league title and make it to the playoffs,” Moran said. 

Moran, a class of 1996 Alisal grad, was well known to Gil as she has been working with him in GBA for the past 10 years, with both boys and girls. 

This year’s team consists  of six seniors – Karizma Ruiz, Jacqueline Rangel, Geraldine Sierra, Danitza Madrigal, Alice Elledge, and Joriel Ongy;  junior Natalie Cortes; sophomores Yulissa Alvarez , Desiree Tolentino, Lesly Rodriguez, Aliah Alvarado; and freshman Areli Maciel. 

“The team is very passionate about the sport, they are hard workers and very disciplined,” Moran said. “We have a great chance to win our league.”

According to Moran, the girls’ speed and chemistry are the leading factors that would  allow them to challenge for the league title. “We have a very talented group of girls that likes to work hard,” Moran said. 

Through five preseason games, the team is 2-3. “So far the team is looking very good,” Moran said. 

Although it’s still very early, Moran is looking ahead. “An area we need to improve will be becoming one unit since we have seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen. The age difference is big and I want to make sure we all feel inclusive,” Moran said. “I am planning team bonding where we can get to know each other better, and so we could become united as one team.” 

Jacqueline Rangel, the only returner from last year’s team, said that the biggest difference between last year’s and this year’s coaches was the pacing between how their games were played. Rangel is looking to play faster, be a leader, and look to guide the younger players, since this is their first time playing with upperclassmen. Another big difference is that the new coach is a woman.

“Our old coach wanted us to run the play and slow down, but this year’s coach is very go, go, go and you could see how the pace of our game is really fast, due to us being on the shorter side, we need to make that up with speed” Rangel said. “The fact that we have a woman head coach is very inspirational because we relate to her a lot.”  

Rangel is looking forward to playing Alvarez. “That hometown rivalry is very funny to me,” Rangel said. “It’s always a good game and it gets very competitive.”  

The team will compete in the Mission Division of the PCAL. “I believe our challenge will be Stevenson,” Moran said. “But the way we’ve played against Salinas High and North Salinas is preparing us.”  

League play starts at Alvarez on January 10, 2022.