With five players injured for much of the season, the Deer Valley High girls basketball coach has been improvising the lineup all year long. The success she's had with the squad, however, is no laughing matter.
Throughout the mixing and matching, the wins keep coming. Most recently, the shorthanded Wolverines (8-3, 3-0) routed the rival Antioch Panthers (5-8, 0-3) on Tuesday night, 60-29.
Sophomore guard Emily Allard led the charge with a game-high 20 points. The newly-healthy Erica Helms contributed 14.
"I feel like we're really playing good basketball right now," Lopez-Wisely said. "They're playing as a team, they're intense and they're fun to watch."
Of course, it's always fun to watch a winning team.
Deer Valley has been rolling lately, winning six of its last seven. However, the team suffered a major loss in the final game of 2006 against Sacramento in the West Coast Jamboree finals. Star center Ashley Ellis left the game with a right knee injury and has yet to return.
Enter Cydnie Mixon.
The freshman forward has started the last three games in relief of Ellis and has been stellar on both sides of the ball.
"She's played big for us every night; that kid's a winner for sure," Lopez-Wisely said. "She has really stepped it up and she has game, for sure. Cydnie has really matured in her ability to be more physical."
Physical is one way to put it. Against the Panthers, Mixon protected the paint like a mother bear protecting her young.
Mixon was a major force behind the Wolverines' unforgiving defense. Antioch's first-quarter points could be counted on one hand.
"I felt like our defense was great," Lopez-Wisely said. "Our pressure was just too much for (the Panthers) to handle. I think our half-court defense was the best I've seen it this year."
Their pressure forced Antioch to make a number of mental mistakes that resulted in turnovers.
On Friday night, Lopez-Wisely and her Deer Valley squad will take their show on the road when they face fellow BVAL power Carondelet (8-4, 3-0).