The Lakewood High School varsity girls basketball team only has eight players on its roster. While it's not done by design, Lady Gators head coach Demetress Adams-Ludd said the smaller roster does afford some benefits.
"It's not something that we're doing on purpose," Adams-Ludd said. "I do believe though that is a blessing in disguise for us. With all of the girls having to play, it's allowed them to grow as players and helped us produce the girls that we have."
LHS returns all of its starters from last season's 10-13 squad. It was Adams-Ludd's second season with Lakewood, going 12-10 in her first season.
The Lady Gators got off to a good start on Tuesday, knocking off Lee Central, where Adams-Ludd was a star before going on to a nice career at the University of South Carolina, 52-25.
Lakewood plays at Sumter today at 6 p.m. The Lady Gamecocks are coming off a 48-45 season-opening home loss to Hartsville, one of Lakewood's Region VI-4A foes.
"Whenever these teams (Lakewood, Sumter, Crestwood) play each other it's always a big game," Adams-Ludd said. "It's a big game because the players see so much of each other."
LHS is going with an all-junior 3-guard offense once again, led by point guard Ki'Ari Cain. Lashala Harvin and Rahteisha Burgess are the other guards.
Cain led Lakewood in scoring last season with 12 points, while Harvin averaged around seven points.
Serena Choice is the lone senior and led in rebounding with an average of 5.0 a game. Junior forward Valencia Croom is the other returning starter.
The other three players are sophomore post player Zaria Stephens, sophomore guard Treasure Smalls and sophomore post player Creamone Chaneyfeild.
"We don't use it (the lack of depth) as an excuse," said Adams-Ludd. "Still, there are some things that we are going to be limited in doing. Our coaching staff works hard to find ways to best use our players."
Lakewood did make the state playoffs last season after finishing fourth in the region with a 2-6 record. LHS did take advantage of making the playoffs, going on the road to beat No. 1 see Hilton Head 40-38 in the first round.
Adams-Ludd hopes the opportunity to move up in the standings will come her squad's way this season.
"From game to game you're just wanting to get better and better," she said. "Right now our goal is to get better and better every day. We feel like if we can do that, we can have a better end to our season."