Basketball glass half full for girls

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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A 6-10 record is not causing Dan Hicks’ hair to turn white. It did long before he took the job as Lincoln High School’s girls basketball coach and made it clear that he will not be settling for mediocrity. His first season has gone pretty much as he expected. The Zebras have not played as bad as their record might indicate, Hicks said, and could easily have two or three more victories by now. “We’re improving,” he said. “We’ve come a long way, and the girls know what we need to work on.” Hicks’ team has not been half bad when it has been at full strength. That has rarely been the case in recent weeks, however. The absence of a player of two has hindered the Zebras’ chances. Sophomore center Cassandra Jones sustained a foot injury during Lincoln’s 58-42 loss to Whitney on Dec. 21. The 5-foot-10 Jones has also lost time on the court after coming down with the flu. Jones’ absence has provided an opportunity for Sarah Dargan, a 5-11 junior, to gain valuable experience. Jones was still under the weather Tuesday and did not practice. Junior point guard Elizabeth Magana was absent when her family took advantage of the holiday break to go on vacation. Hicks did not want Magana to leave, but her family’s plans were set. “We need to change that mentality,” Hicks said. “Those situations happen, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s different. I’m not saying it’s wrong. It’s just different.” Hicks hopes he will not face such situations by this time next year. When he speaks of the players making a commitment, he wants the girls to make every effort to be at every practice and game. Varsity boys coach Ben Palafox questioned his players’ commitment after seven missed at least one practice during the break. He made it clear the players would pay for any further absences. The price will be their uniforms. Hicks has not reached the point of making ultimatums, but he is also not taking the issue lightly. He does not want to make a habit of saying the Zebras lost a game because players were missing. “When we don’t have two of our starters, that doesn’t give us much of a chance,” he said. “Some teams were just better than us. River City was better than us. Oakmont was better than us.” Lincoln lost by 31 points to Oakmont on Dec. 17 and by 35 to River City on Dec. 29. The loss to Oakmont started a four-game skid for the Zebras. Lincoln then beat Lindhurst before facing River City. The Zebras have won their past two games, including a 49-31 victory over Marysville last Friday. Challenges await the Zebras in the Pioneer Valley League. The first will come Wednesday when Lincoln travels to Bear River. For comparison’s sake, Bear River beat River City 56-45 on Dec. 30. On Feb. 2, Hicks will face his former team when Lincoln hosts Colfax. Hicks was the girls coach at Colfax for nine years, winning two Sac-Joaquin Section championships. He was let go after the 2008-09 season.