SRJC Women's basketball pair leaps to next level

Posted By Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:

One of California's community college standouts, Jen Tsurumoto, will play basketball at UC Irvine next season after developing into a strong all-around guard at Santa Rosa Junior College.
    Also moving on from SRJC to the four-year college ranks is Ashley Morgan, who will play at Cal State University Monterey Bay.
    "I see both of them being successful," said Santa Rosa coach Lacey Campbell. "Both of them really grew up this season. The biggest thing was their leadership."
    Tsurumoto, from Analy High, and Morgan, out of Maria Carrillo, helped lead one of Santa Rosa's most successful two-year runs ever in women's basketball.
    As freshmen, they played big parts in Santa Rosa winning the school's first California Community College Athletic Association title.
    The pair improved as sophomores, leading a young and talented Santa Rosa squad to the round of eight in this past season's state tournament.
    Santa Rosa's leading scorer and playmaker, Tsurumoto was a first-team all-state selection after earning similar honors for Northern California. Tsurumoto was Most Valuable Player of the Big 8 Conference.
    Moving to point guard from wing this season, Tsurumoto will compete for a starting spot at Irvine as the Anteaters' playmaker.
    "I like to dribble the ball and pass. I can switch between point guard and off guard," she said.
    "Scoring, that's not a big thing. I want to win."
    Working on strength and conditioning since the season ended should help Tsurumoto make the transition to top level NCAA competition.
    "I need to get a little bit stronger because the girls are going to be bigger. I've been working out a lot so we'll see," Tsurumoto said.
    Running on the track and lifting in the weight room with the Santa Rosa team continues through summer for a handful of former players who also join open gym sessions to stay sharp on the court.
    Morgan already is following the Monterey Bay offseason conditioning program. Fitness is at a premium in the team's fast-paced play.
    "They have a pretty fast tempo. I like that a lot," she said. "I'm hoping to come in already in shape and take a starting spot."
    Santa Rosa's leading rebounder last season, Morgan also became more of a scorer to earn all-conference honors. She will continue working on shooting and finishing around the basket this summer.
    A commitment to defense could help Morgan earn playing time. She led Santa Rosa in steals last season.
    "I just like the idea of getting a stop and getting our team the ball," Morgan said. "I've gotten much better. I'm excited to move on."
    In the classroom, Tsurumoto will major in international studies with a plan to work in the Peace Corps. Morgan will major in sociology.
    Playing basketball in college was a goal both players worked hard to attain. Now they must improve even more.
    "I am really excited," Tsurumoto said. "It will be pretty fun, but a lot of work."
    You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.