Former Lady ’Cats stabilizing injury-hit JWU Gomez, Baker-Marquez enjoying on-the-job training

Now playing for Denver-based Johnson & Wales University, IHS alumna Allisianna Baker-Marquez (10) and a teammate ponder how a play should go while taking a bench break Friday afternoon, Nov. 23, in Colorado Springs versus East Texas Baptist University.
Now playing for Denver-based Johnson & Wales University, IHS alumna Allisianna Baker-Marquez (10) rolls towards the basket Friday afternoon, Nov. 23, in Colorado Springs as a passing option for a teammate against East Texas Baptist University.
Now playing for Denver-based Johnson & Wales University, IHS alumna Avionne Gomez (11) goes up for a shot Friday afternoon, Nov. 23, in Colorado Springs against East Texas Baptist University.
Now playing for Denver-based Johnson & Wales University, IHS alumna Avionne Gomez (11) and teammate Katey Guzman (5) think about the next play Friday afternoon, Nov. 23, in Colorado Springs versus East Texas Baptist University.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Challenging vaunted NCAA Division III force East Texas Baptist University on Day 1 of Colorado College’s Rocky Mountain Thanksgiving Classic, Nov. 23-24 in Colorado Springs, it wasn’t that Johnson & Wales’ Bob Kintzel really wanted to press Ignacio High School graduate Allisianna Baker-Marquez into a starting role.

But he had to.

“With injuries, we’ve had a tough early season—all our height and posts going down—and Alli’s kind of been forced into a spot where she’s definitely playing out of position at the college level,” he said.  “But I like that kid’s attitude; she’s working hard and makes the best out of her abilities and talents.  Alli’s been surprising, actually.”

Against posts listed anywhere between 5-foot-9 and 6-foot-7, the 5’4” Baker-Marquez not only joined JWU’s starting five that day inside CC’s Reid Arena, but scored the Lady Wildcats’ first (with 8:18 left in the first quarter) and last (with less than a minute left in the fourth) baskets in an 89-56 loss.

She totaled six points on 3-of-6 shooting, grabbed a rebound and even blocked a shot during her 23 minutes on the floor, while fellow IHS product Avionne Gomez came off the bench, got 17 minutes of playing time, and sank a baseline jumper with 5:45 left in the third quarter for her two points.  She also grabbed two boards, nabbed one steal, made one assist, and also deflected one Lady Tiger attempt.

“This was an Elite Eight team last year…at the NCAA Tournament,” Kintzel noted (ETBU finished the 2017-18 season 25-7 overall).  “So they’re a good team; it’s good to see something like that.  They’re both great kids, very coachable…in the process of learning the college game, you know, with the speed and everything.”

“It’s a really big transition, you know?” said Baker-Marquez, averaging 15 minutes and three points per game as of Monday, Dec. 3, with JWU standing 0-5 overall prior to beginning Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (NCAA Div. III) play the next evening at CC.  “Coming from our high-school team…it’s a lot of running.  All the teams are way faster, so they’ve been conditioning us so much.  But I really like it; it’s really fun.”

“It’s not scary, but it’s really different,” said Gomez, who started for the first time—and scored six points, snared two caroms and handed out three assists—in JWU’s most recent game (Nov. 30, inside the Wildcat Center versus Prescott, Ariz.-based NAIA member Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University) before their SCAC opener.

“It’s fast-paced, plus we have eight players so it’s non-stop in-and-out,” she continued.  “Barely get two minutes off, and you go play right again!  I like it though.”

“Again, I think the speed of the college game is probably maybe rushing her a little bit,” said Kintzel.  “Avi’s still…I think she’s still trying to find her shot.  I know she can shoot it, you know?”

“It takes me a while to get to the point where I start scoring and stuff.  But I like it,” said Gomez (18.8 minutes, 4.8 points per game as of 12/3).  “Every single second, you have to be ready to shoot, pass, dribble, drive in.  And defense, it’s just a lot harder.  But Coach’s worked us up to the point where we can actually play.”

“I’m taking a lot of this experience; it’s awesome getting a lot of minutes as a freshman,” Baker-Marquez said.  “It’s a lot of hard work…a lot of running.  All the teams are way faster, so they’ve been conditioning us so much.  But I really like it; it’s really fun.”

“They just expect so much out of you,” she added.  “Which is kind of scary but you’ve got to deal with it.”

“All I can ask of the kids every day is that we get better each game.  Just continue to get better,” said Kintzel.  “We’re thrilled to have both of them; I think they’ll be great players down the road.  And the good thing is, with all our freshmen and…our injuries, they’re going to see a lot of playing time!”

“They’re going to grow up quickly, whether they like it or not.”

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