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Santa Maria's Saisha Kahae (14) dribbles the ball around Nipomo's Saskia Dobbe during a Los Padres League game at Santa Maria High on in January of 2016. 

Times file photo

The Santa Maria girls basketball team has eight returners from the 2016-17 team that went 3-17 (1-13 in the Los Padres League) but a freshman has quickly gotten veteran coach Jimmy Salutan's attention.

"Iceis McNutt is a really good guard," Salutan said.

"She put in 14 points in our scrimmage," said Santa Maria's third-year coach. "She looked really good."

Salutan said, "She will be one of our first players off the bench, and she will be in the rotation a lot. She really helped us a lot (in the scrimmage).

The senior returners are point guard Saisha Kahae, guard Serenity Watson, and forwards Deja Alcivar, Andrea Silvas and Brenda Yruegas.

"Brenda is injured right now," said Salutan. "We hope to get her back soon."

The junior returners are guards Nat Sanchez and Ariana Silva and forward Janet Cossio.

Kahae figures to be the starting point guard for the Saints this year. Sanchez figures to be the shooting guard, with Cossio on the wing and Alcivar and Nelly Hernandez playing inside.

"Nelly is a 5-foot-9 senior who played on the junior varsity last season," said Salutan.

Salutan said his team, characteristically, doesn't have much size. "We're going to press on defense, try to play up-tempo on offense," he said. "We're not very big."

With all those returners, plus a promising newcomer in McNutt, "We go about eight or nine deep in the rotation," said Salutan.

"We're a little deeper this year. I'm not as afraid to go to our bench as I was in the past."

Salutan said that, although his team didn't play extensive summer ball, "We played a little bit during the summer. We played in a tournament in Arvin, we went to Las Vegas," for a tournament.

"The scrimmage went pretty well. It showed us a lot of what we need to work on. We're pretty young, we've got a bit of work to do yet but it's coming around. It's coming around."

The Saints' season record was listed at 4-1 Monday night. The Saints lost their season opener at San Marcos 59-27 on Nov. 25. They then defeated Nordhoff 43-33 at the Bishop Diego Tournament on Nov. 29, before beating Bishop Diego 50-22, Villanova Prep 49-21 and Coastal Christian 58-25 last week to wrap up tournament play.

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Sports Reporter