All four Lompoc Valley high school basketball teams have shared one thing in common this winter:
Every single one has had to find a new go-to option.
Gone are the days of seeing LeAndrew Knight drop between 20-30 points for Cabrillo boys basketball, Erin Jenkins becoming the do-it-all type for CHS girls basketball, Danielle Morgan providing her sharp shooting touch for Lompoc girls basketball and the LHS boys basketball team moving on without post presence Jordan Tyler and an injured Andrew Villa.
But from my observation, these four have stepped into the role of becoming the lead tone setter on the basketball floor for their respective teams. Here’s a look:
Cabrillo girls basketball
Gone: Erin Jenkins (averaged 16.2 points per game and 7.0 rebounds during four-year varsity career according to Max Preps)
New leader: Morgan McIntyre
The junior shares one thing in common with Jenkins: McIntyre is a coach’s daughter, as her father Corey McIntyre is the CHS junior varsity girls basketball head coach.
But McIntyre has filled in as CHS’s top scoring and rebounding option in the absence of Jenkins, plus serves as the top defensive specialist who forces turnovers.
McIntyre has averaged 14 points and seven rebounds per game according to Max Preps. Her ability to snatch steals and turn them into fast break points came in handy in the come-from-behind 32-31 road win against Lompoc in front of a jam-packed, shoulder-to-shoulder crowd inside Paisola Pavilion at Bryan Ayer Court.
Lompoc girls basketball
Gone: Danielle Morgan (averaged 11.2 PPG and 2.7 rebounds during four-year varsity career)
New leader: Mya Mendoza
Only a sophomore, Mendoza already believed that she had to take on a leadership presence before the season – as most of her Brave teammates are underclassmen like her.
Now, Mendoza has picked up where she left off from a year ago – serving as that top facilitator when LHS runs its fast paced attack.
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Mendoza, though, has shown a fearless side with collecting rebounds. She ended her week by scoring 19 points to lead the Braves over San Marcos on Thursday.
Cabrillo boys basketball
Gone: LeAndrew Knight (Won the 2017 Lee Central Coast Newspapers Most Valuable Player award and starred at CHS for four varsity seasons)
New leader: Jeremy Hicks
Knight wasn’t just the guy Cabrillo relied upon to get the basketball to – he was active on the defensive end and was vocal inside the locker room.
Now, Hicks has become that on the floor/off the floor voice for the Conquistadores – as a junior point guard.
And he’s emerged as CHS’s chief scoring option.
The 5-foot-10 Hicks is now the lane attacking, 3-point option for head coach C.J. Simmons and the Conqs. But he’s shown an equally skilled side of distributing the ball to the likes of Reggie Orr, Eddy Little and Blake Beecher.
Lompoc boys basketball
Gone: Jordan Tyler (averaged 13.2 points per game through 18 contests) and Andrew Villa (currently injured, averaged 12.4 PPG last season and was the Braves’ leading scoring option during early part of the season)
New leader: Ryan Morgan
Morgan has shown flashes of potential as a freshman and sophomore on varsity.
But now, Morgan is the chief igniter for this Braves team on both ends of the floor.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder has become Lompoc’s go-to-guy to attack inside and finish the basket. He additionally does the dirty work on the floor by attacking the glass and snatching the rebound. Lastly, he shows his instincts by closing fast on the basketball and forcing the steal/turnover.
His plays have kept LHS in the race for a final CIF Southern Section playoff bid with five regular season games left.