Vista girls show promise

By: Matt Long
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Every year with the conclusion of another basketball season followed later by graduation, Vista del Lago varsity girls’ basketball coach Marty Benjamin wonders what next year’s team is going to look like.

Every June, Benjamin gets his first look at what could be when the team gets together for summer tournaments. Despite the team’s 5-9 record in the three tournaments they played, including tournaments at Vista, St. Mary’s and Sacramento State, Benjamin was pleased with what he saw from a group of about 13 girls.

“We’re still a work in progress, obviously, but I like what I’ve seen,” Benjamin said. “We didn’t have the whole team together at either camp, as we had players missing here and there, but like I told the girls, playing in June isn’t about wins and losses. It’s more about evaluating the players and seeing what I’ve got.”

The Eagles are coming a successful 23-6 season last winter, but lose several key seniors in point guard Mikayla Totushek and forward Tara Singh, not to mention three players off the bench in Emily Anderson, Lindsee Zehe and Emilee Jones. Benjamin must find replacements for those players.

“My main goal in the summer is to see what the team might look like after you take the graduated players off of it,” Benjamin said. “We’ve lost our point guard in Mikayla so we have to see how Ceonna (Pipion) is going to be there and then we have to find a backup. Tara was so valuable for us, and we’re going to have to find another player at the four spot. We’ve got some good players coming back, but we have to fill the spots where we lost players. It’s not just dealing with the returning players, as we have to see how the junior varsity players from last year look playing at the varsity level.”

Benjamin said junior center Lindsey Moody looked really strong during the tournaments. Sydney Batt is primed for her best season as a senior this year, while Mia Perez figures to build on an outstanding freshman season from a year ago.

“I like what I saw, and we’ve got a chance to be good,” Benjamin said. “We’ve got to replace some pretty good players, though. I could see us being as good as last year, but maybe the record not be quite as good because we’re coming off a year where a lot of things went right for us. A lot of close games went in our favor.”

One encouraging sign for the future of the program is the number of freshman Benjamin has seen this summer. He said the incoming freshman class is the biggest and deepest class he’s had since he’s been at the school.

“We’ve got strength in numbers,” Benjamin said. “We’ve had 19 freshmen out and four or five of them may play up, but it’s nice to have so many. Some years we were trying to get kids out that had never dribbled a basketball before just so we could have a team.”