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Prep Sports

Young Spartans seek leaders this summer

MORRIS – To Romeoville girls basketball coach Julio Carrasco, the task this summer is obvious as the Spartans begin to prepare for next season.

“We need to find out where the leaders are going to come from,’’ Carrasco said.

The graduation of four-year starting point guard Alexis Marin has left Romeoville with a void to fill in the backcourt, a process that starts with summer competition.

“This year, it’s totally different,’’ Carrasco said. “Lexi ran our team for four years. So it’s trying to find out what we have. This year is going to be a test for us. Not only were we 13-17 last year with Lexi, now we have to find a point guard.’’

Marin is moving on to play at Kankakee Community College after scoring nearly 1,300 points for Romeoville.

Events like the Morris Ladies Shootout and a similar tournament at the University of St.Francis will help Carrasco and his players develop talent and tenacity.

“It’s playing different teams we’ve never played,’’ Carrasco said of the Morris Shootout, which ended Wednesday. “They do a tremendous job making sure you don’t play your conference teams. You get tired of playing the same teams.

“When you’re trying to work on things, you don’t want the other teams knowing exactly what you’re working on. It really helps out to play teams you don’t see on a regular basis.’’

Two freshmen post players who saw regular time on the varsity last season were center Maria Picazo and forward Damia Patton.

“It was intimidating playing with a bunch of upperclassmen, but they were helpful and they wanted you to be on the same page,’’ Picazo said.

They didn’t know each other before high school, but Picazo and Patton became best friends during their freshman year. The Spartans are counting on growth among the newcomers and the entire roster to improve as a team.

“With every game, you want to grow as an individual player, but as a team, too, because you want to build the chemistry more,’’ Picazo said. “With the incoming freshmen, you want to get them up to pace and have them get the hang of it and go from there.’’

Picazo started 28 of 30 varsity games as a freshman. Carrasco said she needed a short break to regain her form.

“She hit a wall midseason,’’ Carrasco said. “We sat her down for a little bit, but she stepped right back into it. We’re expecting a lot from her.

“She’s pretty vocal on the court. We need her to step up off the court with some of the girls in regards to helping them out. She’s got a great attitude.’’

Patton started about two-thirds of the varsity games last season and remembers making the adjustment from junior high basketball.

“In middle school, I was more like the star,’’ Patton said. “I always started. I was the one who people relied on to get points. Then when high school comes, it’s a whole different level. Everyone can play at your level.

“Freshman year was more of a learning experience, not only for me, but for most of my fellow freshmen. I feel like as the years go on, I will get the hang of it.’’

If Brittany Osborne doesn’t return to the team after an ACL injury, Arianna Lampkins will be the only senior.

“We are going to be young this year, but it’s not an excuse to say ‘Oh, we lost because we’re young,’’’ Patton said. “It’s high school varsity level. We have to play like a varsity team.’’

Karina Ortiz was a starter toward the end of last season as a freshman and is the leading candidate at point guard.

“It’s going to be a learning process for us this summer,’’ Carrasco said. “But it’s going to be good for us to figure out what we need to do.’’

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