Mike Takayama is no stranger to producing winning teams.
During his nearly three decades coaching Del Oro High School, his girls basketball teams have won two Sac-Joaquin Section Division III titles (1995 and 1999) and had a run of seven consecutive Sierra Foothill League championships.
Takayama thinks ofbuilding a team as having a tool box of quality players who do their jobs.
After Nevada Union ended Del Oros run of SFL titles last season, Takayama is rebuilding again with a mix of returning starters, role players making contributions and first-year varsity players learning on the fly.
No. 8 Del Oro is 8-3.
Sometimes, we have some very blunt tools, and then sometimes we come out very sharp, Takayama said. I think as the season goes along, we will be able to (improve). We have some very gifted players.
Joining returning forward Lauren Heyn (14 points, 8.6 rebounds) in the frontcourt is fellow junior Hannah Jordan (8.8 points, 5.8 boards), a reserve last season behind Bee first-team All-Metro pick Stephanie Geyer, now at West Point.
The inside duo has opened shooting opportunities for Mia Maglinte, a senior who is averaging 11.4 points and leads the team in 3-pointers with 15.
I think we are going to be a pick-and-pop-type team and be able to give teams problems, Takayama said.
One issue for Takayama so far is the teams inability to take care of the ball. In losses to No. 5 Kennedy and No. 12 Bear River, the Golden Eagles committed 49 total turnovers.
But Takayama believes the team will improve from playing quality opponents in December.
We do have that ability. Its just a matter of how much our guard play improves, Takayama said. We have to play with defensive physicality as well. We have a lot of players who like the offensive side. We have to make sure we match that intensity on the defensive side. We can be very good.
Falcons soaring Rich Simpton knows the terrain around the interchange of Interstate 80 and Highway 174.
The long-time Nevada Union assistant is in his first season as coach at No. 14 Colfax, which has won at least a share of the three previous Pioneer Valley League titles.
This group has played a lot of basketball together, Simpton said. I think the hardest thing for a group of seniors is to change things in their final year. Its taken some time to become comfortable with our different schemes and what we are trying to do.
The comfort wasnt there until we started playing.
Colfax is led by seniors Raegan Lillie (11.1 points) and Lindsey Biles (9.2) and juniors Kylee Bauer (9.9) and point guard Taylor Avila (9.9).
Avila has led Colfax past No. 10 St. Francis to start the season, and to second place in the Lady Eagle Invitational at Del Oro on Saturday.
Taylors amazing. She is strong and determined, Simpton said.