In coach Erin Walton's 10 years at Live Oak High School, she's seen this cycle three times now - the Lions lose most of their players to graduation and bring a lot of young players up to the varsity level.

In coach Erin Walton's 10 years at Live Oak High School, she's seen this cycle three times now - the Lions lose most of their players to graduation and bring a lot of young players up to the varsity level.


Top player Laci Rogers (13 points, 2.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds per game) might be the biggest loss, but five others are also gone - Gabby Monroe, Michelle Argetsinger, Angela Heredia, Stephanie Owen and Cassie Caffas. All six of the girls were either starters or significant contributors.


Luckily for Walton, her three returners were also significant contributors. Rachel DeWitt was one of the team's top rebounders with 4.8 per game, Margauex Fenn was third on the team with 27 assists, and junior Melissa Anderson was their top three-point shooter with 22, and averaged 11.3 points. 3.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game.


The rest of the Lions lineup will be new to varsity. The juniors are Sandra Alcantar, Jessica Mejia and Heather Scarberry. Walton is also bringing up sophomore Jennifer DeWitt, and freshmen Andrea Ruiz, Yomaira Salazar and Amyah Clark.


"Our greatest strength right now is the ability to work hard, and the desire to want to learn and want to improve," Walton said, adding that the youth of the team may have something to do with that. "I think they're very impressionable right now. They want to be successful, and they want to learn, and they want to be good basketball players. That speaks volumes in itself."   


This has the potential to be a rebuilding year for Live Oak, although the mix of young girls and veterans has both groups leaning on each other.


"I think that there's been a greater effort on both ends of the spectrum with the girls trying to help each other because they do want them to succeed," Walton said.


What has impressed her the most is that she has four players 13 to 15 years old, who are still giving maximum effort despite how overwhelming it can be to go from middle school to varsity.


While the returners will be in the mix for starting jobs, Walton likes to leave it open to competition to some degree.


"I like kids to challenge on another, I don't like a set lineup," she said. "It forces kids to constantly have to perform. I realize it creates a little inconsistency, but sometimes you need speed, sometimes you need height. It's good for them to have to earn their spot."


The Lady Lions begin their season with a home game against Sutter High School on December 2.