Last year’s Lompoc High girls basketball team was young – with only three seniors during the Braves’ CIF Southern Section Division 2A quarterfinals run.
But this year’s group that’s currently 1-2 overall is even younger, says head coach Claudia Terrones.
“It really is,” Terrones said following the Braves’ 56-44 loss to Piedmont last Thursday. “Last year we had the three seniors and Danielle Morgan. We basically rotated one other fifth person – so we never really had that fifth starter.”
However, the longtime Braves head coach and University of Gonzaga graduate likes some of the young talent on the Bryan Ayer Court floor so far in the young season – giving Terrones optimism for the future of Braves girls basketball.
“I really feel like Alyssa Grossi has come into herself and she’s a solid two guard out there,” Terrones said. “Plus Mya Mendoza has really brought it on and really gives us a lot more different options. I think that will help Danielle with her offense.”
Both are freshmen who have brought depth to the Braves’ backcourt – as the pair has given Terrones extra shooting options at guard. They’re not the only rising underclassmen at LHS, though.
Sophomore Kayla Taylor has provided size at 6-feet and an inside presence opposite of Bella Robles – who is one of the Braves’ tallest options alongside Ketara Mangino at 6-foot-1. Robles and Mangino are both juniors.
With the youth on Lompoc’s side comes a learning curve ranging from running Terrones’ fast paced scheme to learning each player’s strengths.
“We have one freshman new to the program, one senior and everyone else is in the middle. It’s just learning about each other,” Terrones said. “But I think what we have is a good thing. It’s going to take us time and game play.”
Morgan is the lone senior on this year’s Braves roster. And the four-sport athlete is trying to come back from a knee injury she sustained during the track and field season.
“Danielle has not done any physical activity since last April when she fell at the Santa Barbara County championships. She has been rehabbing all summer after finding out she had a three inch bone bruise on her knee,” Terrones said. “It has been mentally hard on her because of not being able to do anything at all.
“But three weeks ago, she stepped on the court for the very first time to practice…and she obviously hasn’t missed a beat. Mentally, she is stronger.”
Morgan recently earned All-Tournament honors at the Bryan Ayer Classic after averaging 18.7 points per game in the opening tournament, while facing powerhouses like Piedmont High and Santa Barbara. Morgan herself is aware that she has to take the leadership baton and run with it.
“I keep bringing up last year, but last year I never really had to step up (as a leader). But this year, I’m the only senior,” Morgan said, who is now in her fourth season on varsity.
Lompoc has a week off this week before taking on Nipomo on the road on Tuesday, Dec. 12 in the Los Padres League opener for both teams.