There are plusses and minuses to the Lake Oswego girls basketball team graduating just two key seniors last year.
Shannon Reader and Becky Luetjen were both college-level athletes and their leadership and skills will be sorely missed. However, the players who return this winter for Lake Oswego are experienced and have a year of coach Paula Pietrok's system under their belts.
And Pietrok hopes that combination is enough to get the team back in the playoffs.
Currently the Lakers are battling a variety of small injuries and sicknesses but, once the team is up to strength, Pietrok expects it to be formidable.
'I think once league play begins we're going to have a nice, well-rounded squad,' the coach said.
Lake Oswego is currently figuring out what rotations and combinations work on the court but having options is a nice luxury.
Kate Childs is the leading returning scorer for the Lakers. Childs is a very strong outside shooter and leader on the court.
'She's a pure shooter and we have to do a good job freeing her up,' Pietrok said.
Simone Sullivan and Cali Reis can also knock down the outside jumper and provide quickness and defense.
Kendall Guthrie and Kendall Prince will also be valuable contributors as guards on a Lakers team that hopes to get up and down the field quickly this season.
'I think we'll be a little more up-tempo this year in terms of defending full-court and we'll move the ball more quickly in transition,' Pietrok said.
Lake Oswego also has a nice handful of options down low.
Amy Chase and Miranda Babcock-Krenk are both good solid rebounders.
'Miranda does things you can't teach. She has deceptively long arms and she's a girl who leads by example,' Pietrok said.
Lake Oswego also expects big things out of Brandy Herald this year. The tall post who is also an elite rower moved into the district last year and is hoping to improve her offensive game this season.
Another big asset to the Lakers this year will be the addition of Mady Johnson. The soccer standout hasn't played basketball since junior high but came out for the team for her senior year.
'She's a terrific athlete. She's a natural,' Pietrok said.
Lake Oswego fell in a tough game to Tigard 55-51 on Tuesday to start the year. The Lakers took an eight-point lead into the final quarter but foul trouble hurt the team down the stretch.
The Tigers outscored Lake Oswego 22-10 in the final eight minutes.
'I think we just started playing not to lose and really tightened up,' Pietrok said.
Childs led the team with 13 points in the game.
Lake Oswego will play in the Benson Tournament this weekend and will take on Grant and McNary before hosting the Laker Shoot-out after Christmas.
'It's a good group of teams coming out and that's always a nice way to head into league play,' Pietrok said.
In the Three Rivers League this year, Oregon City is, once again, expected to be fairly dominant.
'It could be pretty open after that. I think Clackamas will also be pretty good. It's going to depend on who can steal a big win on the road,' Pietrok said.