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During its last two years in the CIF Southern Section, Righetti's girls basketball team went 14-0 in the PAC 8 League each time.

The year before that, the then Desiree Domingues (she is now Desiree Hitch) was in her first year as coach of the Righetti girls squad she was a four-time league Defensive Player of the Year for. Righetti shared the league title with Arroyo Grande then.

Last year, the Warriors finished in a three-way tie for second place in their new league, the Mountain League, in their first year in the CIF Central Section.

After three straight runs to the sectional semifinals, the Warriors went out in the first round of the playoffs. Hitch is expecting bigger things from her squad this year.

"Absolutely," she believes her team can make a run at regaining the top spot in its league, said Hitch.

In particular, "My bigs put in a lot of work over the summer. They're like different players," Righetti's veteran coach said.

The Warriors will open their season on Thursday with a game against Shafter at Nipomo High. The 3:30 p.m. game is part of the San Luis Obispo Tournament.

Malia Cabigon is one of those front line players Hitch is counting on. The 5 -foot-11 Cabigon, a junior, is a third-year varsity player who can score from inside and outside.

"She'll play at both the post and the power forward spots," said Hitch. "She'll play outside some because she's a good shooter from there."

Cabigon averaged nearly 10 points a game last year, second on the team behind the since-graduated Alijah Paquet, who plays for Hancock College now. At 8.5 rebounds a game, Cabigon was easily Righetti's leading rebounder last year.

Hitch said 5-10 junior Paityn Persson and 5-9 sophomore Madisyn Cutliff will add depth inside for the Warriors. "Paityn will be a starter," said Hitch. "Madisyn will play at the post spot," when she's in there, which figures to be a lot, said Hitch.

In fact, "I have 10 players this year, and they all will play a lot," Hitch said.

Righetti's regular point guard last year, Mercedes Arredondo, plays for Pioneer Valley now. Hitch said several players will run the point for the Warriors this season.

"Natalie Garcia and Mishila Garcia (no relation) will play some at the point for us this year," said Hitch. "We'll also have Alex Paquet (Alijah's younger sister), Abi Salazar and Nathalie Deras playing some there this year."

Salazar and Alex Paquet, both juniors, were on the Righetti varsity last year. Deras, a sophomore, played on the junior varsity.

Alex Paquet, like her sister, can hit from outside. Alex averaged just under nine points a game for Righetti last year.

Both Garcias are seniors. Hitch is also counting on sophomore guard Shaylene Valadez and junior guard Tatyana Rocha to bolster her team this season.  

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.