Osbourn Park's boys' basketball team advanced to the Virginia AAA Northwestern Region tournament for the first time last season, but the top three scorers from that team are gone.
Coach Bobby Lake, who posted a 15-10 record in his first year as head coach, figures he knows who's going to take their place.
"In terms of who's going to step up, I'm looking at our seniors," Lake said. "Your seniors have got to be your leaders. Guys like Dominic Trawick, Daniel Heffner and Jemel Farrell."
But those were not the guys Lake was watching from the stands on Thursday night at Freedom High School, which hosted the last regular season action before the Cardinal Run Summer Basketball League playoffs begin tomorrow.
A night after Lake witnessed Osbourn Park's varsity players win their game in the Sleepy Thompson Summer League in Alexandria, the coach was on hand to see his junior varsity players take on the Colonial Forge varsity.
The Cardinal Run, in its first season, was started partly to promote the game in the western part of the county, and Lake has taken full advantage to give the younger kids in his program a taste of what's to come.
"The game is more physical at the varsity level," Lake said, "and this allows our kids to understand what it's like to compete at the varsity level."
Osbourn Park summer-league coach Debbie Schlechte -- rules prohibit Lake from coaching summer-league games -- has a son on the team, as does Lake. Schlechte feels the summer setup has been a big help for Chris Schlechte, Jonathan Lake and the other young Yellow Jackets.
"It's good for them to see what level they need to rise to," Debbie Schlechte said. "They definitely need the playing time and the competition because otherwise they're not on the floor and they can't apply what Coach Lake is teaching them in a game situation."
On Thursday, Osbourn Park's youngsters more than held their own against Colonial Forge. The Yellow Jackets led for most of the game but found themselves tied at 39 with 7.2 seconds remaining.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Graham's last-second shot missed, but a foul call gave him a chance to win the game with no time on the clock. He missed the first foul shot, but made the second to give Osbourn Park the 40-39 victory.
"No pressure at all," Graham said after the game, but it is just that kind of pressure situation that Lake is eager for his players to face this summer -- win or lose.
"Our philosophy on this is for our kids to be competitive," Lake said. "As long as they're competitive, I don't have a problem."