Out in the middle of the desert, a dynasty continues

Some things never change.  That seems to be the case down in Coolidge, where the Central Arizona College women’s basketball team has made a seamless transition from the coach who led them for 36 years to another just off the bench.

The Vaqueras extended their ACCAC winning streak the other night to 142 games, sparked by a 42-point performance by Olivia Major.  Just a couple of years ago, Major (middle of bottom row in photo) was leading Washington High School to back-to-back state titles before moving on to the junior college ranks.

Eastern Arizona was the victim of Major’s scoring tear as CAC (19-2) hit the 100-pt mark for the fifth time this season.  The deadly sophomore guard is just one of three local athletes on the Vaqueras’ roster this season.  She is joined by a pair of freshmen: Ninna Bungard, a center from Buckeye, and Jelesia Gray, a forward from Sierra Vista.

This is Coach Denise Cardenas’ second year at the helm of the CAC women’s basketball program and she is picking up where Lin Laursen left off.  Laursen left behind a legacy that will likely never be duplicated.  Under Laursen, the program built a national reputation since she took over in 1971. .. 29 ACCAC titles (21 consecutive), 11 Final Four appearances, and three national titles. She is second only to Lorene Ramsey from Illinois Central for all-time wins at the junior college level.

Most recently, the Vaqueras under Laursen won a national championship in 2006, and her 2007 and 2008 squads were runners-up.

Gardenas, who was an assistant coach under Laursen for five years and played for the school in ’97-98,  stepped in and got the girls over the hump, compiling a 35-0 record and adding a fourth national championship for the small community college located between Coolidge and Casa Grande.

This year, they need to work on their game a little more… they’re only ranked sixth nationally.