With eight former Ventura College and Moorpark College women's basketball players on the roster and the coaching staff, the Cal State Monterey Bay women's basketball team had roared out to a 16-0 start this season, topping the California Collegiate Athletic Association at 12-0.
This week, the Otters were ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division II West Regional rankings.
But they also took a hit when former Royal High and Ventura College star Erika Ward was diagnosed with a torn ACL last month.
"With what she brought defensively and with her big shots, it's obviously a big loss," said Monterey head coach Renee Jimenez, the former Ventura High and Ventura College player. "I think everybody knows that they need to step up more.
Ward, who had started the first 15 games, was the team's third-leading scorer at 8.3 points per game. She may be unable to play the rest of the season, but Jimenez said Ward's season isn't over.
"We gave her a coaching notebook today," said Jimenez. "She's one of our smartest players. We need her now more than ever. We need her brain."