Fipps Flying High

U.S. Davis Aggies

Brian WilkinsonDecember 20, 2012 

After firmly etching her name eight times in the Yosemite High girls basketball record book, Sydnee Fipps is now the leading scorer for the NCAA Division I UC Davis Aggies (3-4) in her sophomore year.

After playing an average of 14 minutes and averaging 5.2 points per-game last year as a freshman on a senior-heavy team, Fipps has dramatically raised the level of her game and is currently the Aggies leading scorer with 131 points after eight games (18.7 per game average) while playing 30 minutes a game. Her per game scoring average has her ranked 35th nationally.

She has scored in double-digits in seven consecutive games including 19 in the season opener against Pepperdine, followed by 26 (University of San Francisco), 14 (Navy), 28 (Houston Baptist), 14 (Stanford), 11 (Saint Mary's) and 19 last Sunday in the Aggies 70-59 win over Santa Clara.

In addition to her total points and per game average, Fipps is also leading the team in 3-point shots made (14), 3-point shots percentage (.389), 2-point shots made (38), field goals shooting percentage (.452) and free throws made (41). She is second on the team for assists (10), steals (18) and third for blocked shots (5) and rebounds (27).

The 5-foot-10 Fipps, who is attending UC Davis on a full-ride scholarship, attributes her early success this season to playing a lot of basketball with "the guys" and sticking to a strength and conditioning program over the summer. "I worked a lot on driving to the basket and being a quicker defender," Fipps said. "The strength and conditioning program includes agility drills and weight training to help us all get stronger and faster."

Fipps worked out with the team for a full month before head coach Jennifer Gross announced her starting line-up -- a lineup that had the 2011 YHS grad at the starting shooting guard spot.

Fipps said she was shocked when she heard the news, but is now very comfortable in her starting role for the Aggies.

Second-year head coach Jennifer Gross, who played for the Aggies and served as assistant coach for eight seasons, calls Fipps' start to her sophomore year amazing.

"Sydnee put in a great deal of time and work this past spring and summer and it has paid off," Gross said. "As a freshman, she settled into a role as more of a spot-up shooter. This year, she has been very assertive and has proven that she can score in every way possible. She is a great finisher on drives, post-ups and long-range shots."

Gross said Fipps is also one of the team's best and most consistent rebounders.

"The thing that excites our staff is that Sydnee is determined to keep improving and wants to take her game to another level," Gross said.

The Aggies are a member of the 10-team Big West Conference. Fipps and teammates were less than overjoyed when a pre-season coaches and media poll had the team ranked No. 7 in the league.

Fipps had a short response to the poll -- "We'll prove them wrong."

Fipps said the team will continue to improve as the season goes on and feels they have a good chance at winning the conference title.

Other schools in the conference are University of Pacific (Stockton), Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo), UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Northridge, Hawaii, Cal State Fullerton, UC Riverside, Long Beach State and UC Irvine.

The economics major said she loves school, her teammates and her coach.

"Coach Gross knows how to get the best out of us and she is very passionate and knowledgable about the game of basketball," Fipps said.

On Nov. 30, Fipps had 14 points in a losing effort (87-38) against the No. 1 team in the nation -- Stanford.

"That game showed us how we compare with the No. 1 team in the nation and the areas our team needs to work on including rebounding and running our offense better," Fipps said.

On Dec. 6, the Aggies fell to Saint Mary's (6-2), 75-56, with Fipps scoring 11. She also grabbed a team-high five rebounds and had three blocks - a career high.

The UC Davis defense collected 17 steals (three by Fipps) and forced 28 St. Mary's turnovers in the game at The Pavilion in Davis. The Aggies are currently ranked eighth nationally in steals per game (14.4).

Gross says her team is starting to come together.

"In the first half against St. Mary's we made huge strides with our defensive effort and our energy and physicality were great," Gross said. "We play together and we're in it together. If we lose, we're going to dig in together and figure out ways that we can win as a group."

The team will play Washington at home on Friday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. and Sac State at home Sunday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. The Aggies will play at the University of Pacific in Stockton, Saturday, Jan. 5, at 4 p.m.

Yosemite flashback

As a four-year varsity starter at Yosemite, Fipps and the Badgers compiled a 85-36 record (39-1 in league), won four league championships and played in the CIF Central Division II championship game three times before graduating in 2011.

Along the way, Fipps rewrote the girls basketball record book at Yosemite High, owning eight records and is only the second player in the school's history to score more than 2,000 points in her career.

She finished her career with 2,194 points, just 41 behind 2007 graduate Katie Menton (2004-2007) who played four years for Pepperdine University.

In addition to the eight records, Fipps is ranked No. 2 in two categories and No. 3 in two others.

In her senior season, Fipps averaged 23.4 points per game making 128 of 205 (62.5%) two-point shots, 107 of 317 (33.8%) 3-point shots and 103 of 140 (73.6%) free throws. She scored 43 points against Washington Union, 37 twice against Brookswood and Liberty and 31 against Lemoore in the Central Section playoffs.

She had an additional 15 games that season with 20 or more points, scored 11 3-pointers in one game and led the Valley in scoring in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons. It was those kind of stats that made her a McDonalds High School All-American nominee.

Although she was proud of her individual accomplishments at Yosemite, she said after graduation her individual records did not mean as much to her as the team winning a section championship would have been.

Born and raised in Mariposa, Fipps discovered sports at a young age. It was in the fifth grade that she realized basketball was her passion. That summer she joined her cousins in Hanford to play on a travel team. The next year she joined the Yosemite Youth Basketball program and played on a travel team for the next three years.

Basketball was part of the family. Her mother, Linda, played basketball for California State University, Fresno, for three years and father Ken played in high school.

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