COC Insider: Cougars women’s hoops players shine in losses


The College of the Canyons women’s basketball team hosted the two-day “Canyons Crossover” event at home earlier this month and received a trio of standout performances from Marina Rojas, Morgan Bizzell and Dayna Tanaka.

Canyons went winless at the event, first dropping a 59-43 contest to Antelope Valley College on Friday, before falling in Saturday’s game to Citrus by a 64-54 margin.

Tanaka led the offensive charge through the weekend with a combined 31 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Those totals were right in line with the freshman guard’s season average of 14.9 points per game, which leads the team and ranks 11th in the conference. In the matchup vs. Citrus, Tanaka scored a game-high 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

Bizzell had a combined 26 points and 21 rebounds in the two games, posting a double-double on Friday against Antelope Valley, with 15 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

Rojas finished the weekend with a combined 15 assists in the two games to go with 12 steals. Her totals of nine assists and seven steals against Citrus led all players in both categories. The 5-foot-4 sophomore guard is now averaging 5.1 assists per game to rank second in the conference. She also ranks 13th in the WSC in total rebounds while averaging 8.7 per game to lead the Cougars.

Canyons will next take the court at 5 p.m. on Jan. 21, in a matchup with L.A Pierce College.

2 football players named all-state

College of the Canyons freshman defensive lineman Dorian Gerald and sophomore punter Austin McKinney have both been named to the 2016 Region III All-California Community College Football Team.

McKinney, a Saugus High graduate, finished the season with 55 punts for an average of 40.1 yards per kick to lead the Southern California Football Association Northern League and rank second in the state. He also recorded a long kick of 56 yards, while helping to pin COC opponents inside the 20-yard line on 13 occasions.

As a result, McKinney was also a unanimous Southern California Football Association First-Team selection in 2016.

Gerald had a spectacular freshman campaign for the Cougars, with the South Carolina native starting in all 11 games while recording a conference-leading 12 sacks and four forced fumbles. His 12 sacks also ranked third in the state. He recorded 54 total tackles and his 24 tackles for loss were tops for the Cougars.

The All-California Community College Football Team is selected by the California Community College Football Coaches Association in conjunction with the JC Athletic Bureau.

Hall of Fame dinner approaching

A limited number of tickets are still available for the 2017 College of the Canyons Athletic Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony, with all Cougar fans, supporters and alumni invited to help the COC athletic department honor its newest Hall of Fame class.

The 2017 class of inductees includes the college’s 2004 national championship football team, women’s basketball standout Sha’Tasha Allen, former NFL running back J.J. Arrington, All-American cross country and track and field runner Jessica Gomez, and longtime track and field assistant coach Ulric Grigsby.

Grigsby coached at COC for more than 24 years before passing away in 2014. During that time he served as a coach to multiple generations of COC student-athletes. An athlete in his own right, Grigsby ran track for the U.S. Army in the late 1940s and early 50s, before going on to compete in five Senior Olympic games.

Gomez was a four-time JC All-American for the Cougars. Her fourth place finish at the 2005 California Community College Athletic Association Cross Country State Championships remains the women’s program’s all-time best finish. She also left COC as the program’s record-holder in the 800-meter run.

Arrington starred at running back for the Cougars during the 2001 and 2002 seasons before going on to stardom as a 2,000-yard rusher for the University of California, Berkeley and a second round NFL draft pick. He left Canyons as the program’s all-team leader in rushing touchdowns and later became the first former Cougar to play in the Super Bowl as a member of the 2008 Arizona Cardinals.

Allen finished her COC career as the women’s basketball program’s all-time leading scorer, while guiding her teams to a combined 46-17 record during the 1998-99 and 1999-00 seasons. She earned Western State Conference Player of the Year and all-state team honors as a sophomore before earning a scholarship to California State University, Northridge.

Just seven years removed from resurrecting its program, the 2004 COC football team posted a perfect 14-0 record en route to a WSC, Southern California, state and national championships. In the 2004 CCCAA State Championship, COC defeated City College of San Francisco 39-32 to earn the nation’s No. 1 ranking.

Tickets to the COC Athletic Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony are $75 per guest, with all proceeds benefiting the college’s athletic programs.

The event will be held on Jan. 26, at the Hyatt Regency Valencia, and begins at 5:30 p.m. with a no-host cocktail hour, followed by dinner served promptly at 6:30 p.m. The evening’s main program will begin at 7 p.m. and feature a special presentation for each of this year’s inductees, highlighting their career achievements as student-athletes at College of the Canyons.

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