Success has been the norm for Coach Paul Romig and the Selma Girls basketball team over the past three seasons.
After winning three straight Central Sequoia League championships, making two trips to the Division III Valley Championship and winning the program's first state playoff game in its history, they have been on the top of the mountain.
Now entering the 2014-15 season, the Bears girls basketball team looks to a new foundation of players to help keep the program on top.
“With a new cast of players, our team looks to use full court defense and tempo to fuel our games,” Romig said. “In many ways, it parallels other seasons. We are just looking to build skill and try to improve and get better in increments. It might be a different starting point, but the approach remains the same.”
A combined 76-17 record over the past three seasons and a 27-3 record in the CSL have put Selma in a strange place. On one hand, the success has propelled the Bears girls basketball team to the limelight of Central Valley Basketball; On the other hand, it is also a curse, as they were moved up a division and will compete in Division II for playoffs this season.
Gone are three senior cornerstones of the program in Selma’s all-time leading scorer Erin Pallesi, four-year starting point guard Angela Cuevas and three-year starter Kim Alfors. All three are continuing their careers in college: Pallesi at Fresno Pacific University, Cuevas and Alfors at West Hills College.
With the loss of those girls, Romig will look to returners Aneet Grewal, Briana Morales, Diana Castellanos, Briana Morales, Gagan Dhaliwal and Alissa Garcia. Grewal and Garcia -- two starters from last season -- are out with injury for the early part of the season.
“The roles change. We had some significant members graduate. It is now their chance to take over the mantle and be more of a guiding force in what we do game to game,” Romig said. “It is always interesting to see when that shift happens, to see what kids step forward and take advantage of the opportunity.”
Romig will look for contributions all season from freshman Lizette Moreno, Aliyah Garcia and Jasreet Brar; who will see significant playing time due to injuries at the beginning of the season.
“I think it is a great opportunity from them, I think Lizette Morneo has an opportunity to be an outstanding high school player. She has a lot of things that a coach can’t teach. If she can apply the other things that need to be added to her game, I think she could be an outstanding player on both sides of the floor,” Romig said. “Jasreet Brar and Aliyah have a lot of athletic ability and the more their skills improve, the better off they will be. All three of those players have a great opportunity to gain experience at the varsity level and experience is the best teacher.”
The Bears biggest challenge to winning a fourth straight CSL championship is Immanuel High School, who is not only the favorite to win the CSL, but also the favorite to win the Division V valley championships this season. Kingsburg and Exeter are also much improved in the CSL.
“I think we get back to the simplest forms, regardless of what other people's expectations are," Romig said. "For us, that should not influence what we are trying to do. Regardless of what the starting point is, at the beginning of the year, the focus needs to be on improving. We have a group which is willing to put in effort and time.”
Selma will open the season playing in the Selma Shoot-Out today through Saturday. The Bears host Shafter High School at 4:45 p.m. inside the Selma High School gym in their first game of the tournament.