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Digging into season with solid group

Coming off a stellar season last winter, the Pueblo West High School girls basketball team would like nothing better than to improve on last year’s performance.

With a solid group of players, coach Gil Lucero is excited to dig into the season.

“We’ve got an interesting mix,” he said.

“There’s a solid group of upperclassmen and a really strong group of sophomores without a lot of varsity experience yet. We played a lot during the summer – pretty much year round – so the girls are really learning to play with each other.”

Last year’s team went 25-2, making it to the Final Four in the state basketball tournament before being knocked out by D’Evelyn High School. The girls were 9-1 in the 4A South Central league.

There are two returning starters for the girls’ team – Bri Rodriguez, a senior, and Haley Simental, a junior. Both are point guards, which Lucero noted he’s glad to have back and he knows they will provide good leadership for the team.

There are four other seniors on the team, most with some varsity playing time under their belts – Claire Fort, Gina Carochi, Brandi Herrera and Bailee Jameson.

Jameson played basketball her freshman year, then concentrated on soccer for a couple of years before deciding to return to the court this winter.

“I think this is the deepest we’ve been in several years,” Lucero said.

“We have a lot of good people who can fill in and come in off the bench. A lot of these girls were playing with us through the summer, so they’re strong.”

With just a few official practices before the Thanksgiving break, Lucero said his biggest problem so far is finding time for everybody to get on the court – not a bad problem to have.

“It’s pretty deep, and we don’t have a big drop off from the starters to the reserve, so we just have to figure out who plays well together,” he said.

Like every other year, Lucero said the team’s goal “remains the same no matter what” – first to win the league, then get a high seed in the playoffs and make a run at the state title.

“My philosophy is that you come and work at practice to get better every single day,” he said.

“In the end, that pays off, whether it’s in basketball or just life in general.”

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