It is hardly surprising that a varsity basketball team starting two sophomores and allotting significant minutes to a third would endure growing pains.
The Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League enjoyed a banner year - three teams qualified for the North Coast Section playoffs - but the younger, shorter Del Norte Warriors of 2012andndash;13 were left on the oustide looking in.
The Warriors went 2-6 in HDN League play (7-13 overall), ahead of only Eureka High School in the final standings, as they searched for consistent production and effort on a game-to-game basis.
"I do think that we improved," Del Norte coach Blaine Lopez said. "Obviously we were competitive in most games. We were young, and you know, I think we usually found a way to lose instead of finding a way to win."
Senior Sean DeArman, the Warriors' tallest player at 6-foot-4, led the team in scoring in his only season as a Del Norte basketball player. Sophomore guards Josh Gruden and Steven Maready grew over time as the Warriors' starting backcourt.
Senior Doug Ovick, one of the team's best defensive players, and junior post Aaron Fitch also started for Del Norte.
Juniors Jesus Herrera and Dylan Pease were the primary backups at the guard positions, with senior Blair Westbrook and sophomore Brandon Japp providing depth in the post. Seniors Raul Zepeda and Jacob Dorosz and junior Jordan Carpenter rounded out the roster.
Lopez said that the seniors provided leadership by example for the younger players.
"Those guys come to practice every day (and) work their butts off," he said. "I feel fortunate to be able to be around them."
Del Norte High's junior varsity team, coached by Jeff Cook, struggled with consistency as well. The Warriors' proclivity for early deficits and dramatic comebacks ultimately led to a 6-16 overall record (1-7 HDN Big 5).
The Warriors' junior varsity roster included Humberto Cortez, Parker Dantzman, Jonathan Calderon, Omar Leal, Anthony Jackson, Chad Bell, Zach Horner, Cody Alarcon, Alec Westbrook, Napooi Shorty and Colton Davis. All were sophomores.
The Del Norte High freshmen rode their tough defense to an 11-5 overall record (6-2 HDN Big 5).
The Del Norte freshman team roster included Adam Kell, Joey Godla, Jesus Lara, Cameron Cain, Jon Valladares, Austin Healy, Nathan Wells, Steven Vance, Michael Marcinek, Singh Saivong, Kyle Cleland, Victor De Los Santos, Jordan Ridgley and Saige Swan.
Expecting a similarly young group next season, Lopez had a message for his up-and-coming players.
"The ones that aren't involved in other sports really need to be playing basketball," he said. "If we're going to be competitive, you've got to take some time to play basketball."
Reach Robert Husseman at firstname.lastname@example.org .