College of the Sequoias' women's basketball team — arguably off to the best start of any program in the state this season — is set to make its home debut.
Against a who's who of the state's elite teams, the Giants have raced out to a 6-0 record heading into the COS Crossover on Nov. 18-19 at Porter Field House.
Sequoias, the North Region's preseason No. 3-ranked team by the California Community College Women's Basketball Coaches Association, is scheduled to play South Region No. 25 Riverside at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18, and South No. 9 Pasadena City at 2 p.m. Nov. 19.
The Giants' 6-0 start features wins over North No. 16 Redwoods (103-57), North No. 7 Laney (70-62), South No. 3 Moorpark (twice, 79-76 in OT and 58-51), South No. 5 East Los Angeles (71-59) and South No. 11 L.A. Trade Tech (83-54).
North No. 6 Butte is the only other team in the state that has started 6-0, with conquests of four ranked teams, including South No. 2 Mt. San Antonio and North No. 2 Sierra.
"To start off (6-0) is excellent," Giants coach Ray Alvarado said. "Especially when you play high caliber teams."
Sequoias has been led by 5-11 sophomore forward Alana Roberts (Sierra Pacific High-Hanford). Roberts, who missed all but five games last season because of an ankle injury, is averaging a team-leading 16.2 points on 58% shooting and 10.8 rebounds, along with 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks a game.
Roberts is one of five players back from a Giants team that went 24-6 overall last season, won the Central Valley Conference title at 11-1 and reached the state semifinals before its season came to an end with a 69-53 loss to eventual state champion Sierra.
"It's great to have her back," Alvarado said. "We're hoping she has a really good year for us. We're excited to see what she can do."
Other returning sophomores include 5-7 guard Tiana Holland (Washington Union-Easton), 5-8 guard Taylor Roth (Sanger), 5-8 forward Hannah Kearnan (Redwood) and 5-8 forward Noura Aboutaleb (Charlotte, N.C.).
Holland (7.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 steals) and Roth (3.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists) have been starters so far for the Giants.
"Tiana works extremely hard. She's going to be asked to do a lot for us," Alvarado said. "Taylor has improved steadily and will have to contribute quite a bit as well."
Kearnan (3.3 points, 1.2 rebounds) and Aboutaleb (3.0 points, 1.3 rebounds) have been key reserves.
"Hannah's a hard-working kid doing an exceptional job," Alvarado said. "Noura didn't play much last year, but she's really developed her shooting and ball handling in the offseason. We're going to need positive minutes from her."
Sequoias' nine-woman roster is bolstered by a pair of sophomore transfers with international experience in 5-7 guard Camila Barreno (Ambato, Ecuador) and 5-9 guard Maria Dias (Lisbon, Portugal).
Barreno and Dias played at Miami Dade Community College last season and have made an instant impact with the Giants.
Barreno is averaging 14.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game, while Dias contributes averages of 14.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.0 steals.
"They can both shoot the (3-pointer) and get to the basket," Alvarado said. "And they are both learning better defensive fundamentals. They are good players and are going to make an impact. Both should be scholarship players by the end of the year here."
The Giants roster is rounded out by freshman recruits Geizzle Jones, a 6-1 guard from Bullard-Fresno, and Maci Chavez, a 5-6 guard from Kingsburg.
Jones, who has worked her way into the starting lineup the past three games, is averaging 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. Chavez averages 2.3 points and 1.8 rebounds off the bench.
"Geizzle is another scholarship player when it's all said and done," Alvarado said. "She's definitely a special player.
"Maci is expanding her knowledge of what we do. She's an excellent role player and she keeps increasing her minutes."
Sequoias has two other potential players -- returning sophomore Celeste Lewis (Sierra Pacific) and freshman recruit Aliyah Johnson (North-Bakersfield) -- Alvarado hopes will join the team at some point this season. Both have yet to play because of personal reasons.
Lewis, a 5-10 guard, was a key contributor last season, averaging 15.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game while earning first-team All-CVC honors.
Johnson, a 5-11 forward, averaged 21 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 4.7 steals and 1.2 blocks per game as a high school sophomore in 2017-2018. She hasn't played since.
Lewis and Johnson would add even more firepower to a team that is averaging a state fourth-best 77.3 points per game.
"I've been telling people from the very beginning that this could be our best offensive team," Alvarado said. "They can score. Now we just need to get them to learn to play defense as a unit."
The COS Crossover also features Pasadena vs. Porterville at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18 and Riverside vs. Porterville at noon Nov. 19.
Admission to Porter Field House is $8 general and $5 for seniors and students.
"We've got some good, respectable kids who work hard and want to win," Alvarado said. "I think getting off to this good start shows them they can compete at a high level. I look forward to watching them play and perform throughout the season."