The past two seasons have been a rebuilding process of sorts for Mustang Women’s Basketball Coach Garett Sherman, and the team is looking to reap the benefits of those efforts beginning this Thursday, Nov. 3, at home with the Mustang Invitational Tournament. Western will play the Utah All-Stars on Thursday at 7 p.m., Snow College on Friday at 7 p.m., and Colorado Northwestern Community College on Saturday at 5 p.m.
"It has been a building process here for the last couple seasons," said Sherman, who joined Western in 2014. "We added a talented freshmen class last year with our first recruiting class. We went into the off season knowing we needed to address our point guard position, and we needed to add some size down low, and we did just that. This group has a chance to be special by the end of the year, and I'm excited to get to work."
Freshman international student Dora Goles, of Split, Croatia, will play point guard for the Mustangs. She currently ranks among the top 100 junior-college freshmen in the country, according to ESPNW’s “Dan Olson Girls Basketball Report.”
“Dora is a pure point guard with great vision who can get to the basket or shoot the three from deep,” Sherman said. “Defensively, she causes a lot of problems and is the kind of player who makes everyone around her better.”
Goles has already drawn attention from NCAA Division I schools, and she has committed to play for Idaho State University next year.
Freshman Marlee Machon, of Salt Lake City, will also see some time at the point this season. Sherman described Machon as “jet-quick” and said she can “play off the ball, with the ability to create her own shot or create shots for others.”
International recruit Holly Wilkes, of Birmingham, United Kingdom, is a mobile 6’4 post player whose presence will be huge for the team, especially on the defensive end, Sherman said.
Another top-100 recruit for Western is Olivia James, a 6'4 power forward from Layton, Utah. Sherman said her skills and quickness will have an impact on both ends of the court for the Mustangs. And, Rachel Brothers is a 6’2 forward from Park City, Utah, who brings some needed size to the floor for Western, Sherman said.
“She can score facing up or with her back to the basket,” the coach said of Brothers. “We expect her to help us out on the boards.”
Another newcomer to the Mustangs this season is Ozge Yarga, of Turkey, a sophomore who transferred to Rock Springs from Western Nebraska Community College, where she had a strong freshman season.
“She can play the point or off the ball and is very quick with the ability to score inside or outside,” Sherman said. “On the defensive end, she can put a lot of pressure on the other team's ball handlers.”
The Mustangs have enjoyed success with international recruitment: in addition to Yarga, Wilkes and Goles, Western returns 6’ wing Julia Hanni, of Sweden, and 6’1 guard Irene Garrido Perez, of Spain, from last season. Perez was ranked among the top 100 junior college freshmen last season and is ranked among the top 100 sophomores this year. She has committed to play for NCAA D-I Grand Canyon University next year.
Perez and Hanni are joined by fellow returners Savannah Hunter (6’ small forward, out of Puyallup, Washington), Shayla Simpson (5’8 guard, out of Washington Terrace, Utah), Lexi Smith (5’9 guard, out of Herriman, Utah), and Cara Thomas (6’ forward, out of Highlands Ranch, Colo.).
This week’s tournament is the first action of the season for the Mustangs. Next week, they will play in the McCook Community College Tournament in Nebraska on Nov. 10, 11 and 12, and at the Sheridan College Tournament on Nov. 18 and 19. They return home Thanksgiving weekend for the Mustang Invitational on Friday, Nov. 25, and Saturday, Nov. 26.