Nipomo girls basketball coach David Mendez knows his team has a long way to go, as evidenced by Friday night’s 43-27 loss to Camarillo at the Holiday Classic at San Luis Obispo High.
The Scorpions used a smothering 2-3 zone defense and the long arms of 6-foot-1 center Cameran Bahnsen to force Nipomo (2-4) into mistakes.
“We probably had over 20 turnovers and we are not going to win games like that,” Mendez said. “We are just trying to find our identity as a team.”
This season, that identity is young, especially when it comes to the bench. Center Vanessa Davis and point guard Ashley Hernandez are the only seniors on the roster. On Friday night, freshman Kayla Zalesny saw plenty of court time and scored six points. Classmates Madelyn Witcher, who scored on two free throws, and Janna Slover also figure to be in Nipomo’s regular rotation this season.
The good news for Nipomo is that the top three scorers from last season are back, including the Titans’ leading scorer, junior Sidney Aguilera. Aguilera averaged 9.6 points per game for the 11-17 (7-7 Los Padres League) Titans last season.
Junior Kylie Mendez was Nipomo’s leading scorer against Camarillo with seven points on Friday night.
“I know we are young, but that doesn’t really mean anything,” said the 5-foot point guard who also had seven rebounds. “We have to just play as hard as we can and not give up.”
Kylie is a pass-first point guard who loves to get her teammates involved, but her quick feet and no-look passes caught her teammates off guard a few times against Camarillo.
“I just see them out of the corner of my eye and just go,” Kylie said, adding that she learned the no-look pass from her older brother ,who played basketball at Nipomo a few years ago.
Last season, Kylie averaged 7.5 points per game and 6.0 assists.
“With experience, these girls will learn to be ready for those passes,” Mendez said. “She is just a little fireball; she is going to be quick up and down the court. She is going to be a big help for us this season.”
Kylie said the biggest thing for her will be fine-tuning her outside shot during practice and setting an example for the younger players.
“I have to be the first one in the gym and the last one out,” Kylie said.
Perhaps the biggest change from last season to this season was the loss of Jordynn Dorado, Nipomo’s 5-foot-11 center who averaged more than 12 rebounds per game last season. Dorado decided step away from the court and focus on track and field events.
“We will definitely get where we want to be,” Mendez said. “But that is why we play these tougher teams early in the season — to get stronger and see what they can do.”
Mission Prep 47, Ridgeview 42
Mission Prep beat Ridgeview at the Holiday Classic.
Four players were in double-digits for the Royals, led by Jacqueline San Jule with 12 points.
Noelle Laird had a double-double, with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Jenna Lee had five steals.
Templeton 50, Atascadero 43
Vanessa Urciuoli had 14 points, and Annie Elterman had 13 points in the Eagles’ win at the Holiday Classic.
Julia Aurignac had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds for Templeton (1-2).
Templeton plays Paso Robles at 1:30 p.m.
Bakersfield 39, Paso Robles 36
Grace Rosa was the high scorer for the Bearcats with 16 points at the Holiday Classic.
Paso Robles was missing three starters due to injury.
“The bench played really well, I was proud of our effort and hustle,” coach Heidi Wittstrom Sill said. “We are headed in the right direction, and are continuing to improve each day despite injuries to some very key players.”
Arvin 47, San Luis Obispo 46
The Tigers had a chance to win with 7.5 seconds left, but came up short at the Holiday Classic.
San Luis Obispo gave up 17 points in the first quarter, but only allowed 16 in the second half to close the gap.
Lily Svetich and Stephanie Brenner each had nine points for San Luis Obispo, which wraps up the Holiday Classic on Saturday against Nipomo at noon.
Tribune staff contributed to this report.