Former Vikings wrapping up college careers

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Leading all scorers and rebounders in a season-ending win was a memorable cap to Raquel Gomes’ basketball career at Dominican University.

Charrise Reece

 

Still playing are her former Montgomery High teammates Christina Barclay and Charrise Reece, starters for nationally ranked Biola University playing today in the NAIA national championship tournament.

All-Empire standouts as prep players, the trio has been as important to their college teams as they were in taking Montgomery to the California state playoffs.

“It went by really fast. It was a great experience. It’s something you dream of as a little kid,” Gomes said.

Raquel Gomes

Helping turn around the Biola women’s basketball program has been a thrill for Barclay and Reece. Ranked ninth in the nation, Biola is making a program-best third straight trip to the NAIA Tournament, in Jackson, Tenn., where the Eagles open against William Woods.
“We’re going for the ring. Our goal is winning a national championship,” said Barclay, Biola’s starting center.

Leading the Biola team at point guard, Reece has another year to play after sitting out her freshman season.
“Each year we’ve gotten better. We definitely have higher expectations,” Reece said.

As Montgomery seniors, the trio led the Vikings to the North Coast Section Division II title game and the NorCal semifinals in the state prep playoffs four years ago. Gomes was the “Roc” at power forward, Barclay the anchor inside, and Reece the speedy playmaker.
Playing similar roles on their college teams, the threesome start and have become leaders on the floor.

Hard work on skills and conditioning helped Gomes become a fixture in the Dominican lineup. Dominican’s third-leading scorer with 7 a game, Gomes topped the Penguins in rebounds averaging 6 and was among team leaders in steals.

“I’ve been more of a vocal leader on the court this year. I’m able to lead my team more,” Gomes said.
Gomes also is part of the foundation for Dominican’s move from the NAIA to NCAA Division II the past two seasons. Dominican is in San Rafael.
“We are still building and trying to get used to the move,” she said. “It was great to share the experiences. I love being a leader.”

Those experiences included a loss to Biola three seasons back.
“It was great to play against them. It was just really fun,” Gomes said.
While her season is done, Gomes is following Biola in the NAIA tournament.
Gomes and Reece are like sisters. Reece was in the stands for Dominican’s senior night when Gomes was recognized. They shared experiences through weekly phone calls and working out together in summer.

Next for Gomes is graduation. A liberal studies major, Gomes plans to be a special education teacher.
Five wins and a national title is the immediate aim for Barclay and Reece. They are calm and ready for the La Mirada school’s third straight trip to the NAIA tournament.

“We’ve definitely got more experience,” Barclay said. “We kind of walk in with a little bit more of a swagger that we belong at this level. We’re not the underdogs anymore.”
Such confidence comes with improvement on the court. Barclay — averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds the past two seasons — is making half her shots and is among the nation’s top shot blockers. The tall center helps anchor one of the nation’s top defenses.

“I’m just more confident, being comfortable on the court and just kind of playing through stuff,” she said.
Biola’s recent run of tournament appearances is a point of pride for Barclay.
“I don’t really expect success. I just work at it,” she said. “I’m honored to be part of this.”
When the season ends, Barclay will focus on graduation and looking for work in the film industry.
A three-year starter, Reece has become a more outspoken player.

“I’ve worked on my leadership role. It’s been the most difficult but also the most improvement,” Reece said.
To improve her game, Reece played in the San Francisco Pro-Am League for women. Reece concentrated on her pull-up shot to complement a fearless drive to the basket. Defense always needs improvement, she said.

“The competition was a lot better. It just made me work harder,” Reece said.
Playing in the tough Golden State Athletic Conference is challenging enough with five teams including Biola ranked in the NAIA Top 25.
“We have one of the strongest leagues. Every night is a battle and every night we have to be able to compete,” Reece said.

Juggling basketball and school has been a lesson in time management Reece has mastered. She majors in sociology with an emphasis on criminal justice and also has minors in bible studies and psychology.

“I’m just blessed and happy that I can go to school and play the sport I love,” Reece said. “The three of us have gone a long way.”