Two seasons ago Crossroads won a CIF championship in girls basketball, the only time in school history that has happened.
However, Coach Kevin Cormier left to become head coach at La Salle High in Pasadena, his assistants left too, and the Roadrunners were assigned to a higher CIF division.
“It was an adjustment for everyone,” said new coach Malek Abdul-Mansour after the Roadrunners completed last season with a 14-9 record, a second place league finish and one win in the playoffs before being eliminated.
As Abdul-Mansour begins his second season, he has a mixture of key returnees and promising newcomers, but in the first 10 practices the entire squad wasn’t together once.
“It goes along with coaching at Crossroads,” he said. “The girls don’t play basketball in the summer, practices are missed for various reasons, and there are school-mandated trips too. For instance, one of our new players wasn’t here at all last week.”
However, Abdul-Mansour believes the team may do well once Alpha League games begin.
“We may struggle for awhile but when everyone is here we should do all right,” he said. “Probably after Christnas.”
Crossroads was scheduled to open its season Monday, November 30 against Los Angeles Baptist and will be at Windward Dec. 8.
An important development is that guard Megan Baer has been doing well in practice after suffering a knee injury that prematurely ended her 2008-’09 season. At her best she’s an all-CIF player who excelled on the Roadrunners’ championship team.
Baer will team with returnee Nadine Byers in the backcourt and Shannon McQueen returns at forward. McQueen has also accepted a scholarship to play softball at Western Kentucky next year.
A key loss is center Christina Murray, who graduated and is attending Kentucky but not playing basketball.
Newcomers will round out the starting lineup and provide depth.
Abdul-Mansour has seven freshmen and one transfer, Kenyon Collins from View Park High. He says three freshmen are likely to receive important playing time — Dominique Balou, Serene Kennedy and Griffin Dietz.
“It’s an interesting coaching situation,” he said. “We can install our system and be more advanced with the older girls but we’re teaching the freshmen how to make a lay-up.”