No. 4 Lakewood girls hoops has a busy start to the 2017-18 season

Lakewood senior Camilla Emsbo, left, celebrates with teammates during the Tigers' home opener Tuesday. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

LAKEWOOD — Not even a week into the 2017-18 basketball season and Lakewood’s girls hoops team has already played five games.

“We are just jumping in. It’s a lot of games,” Lakewood senior Camilla Emsbo said of the Tigers’ 55-39 home opener victory Tuesday night against Arapahoe. “It’s a lot of fun. No complaints here, I love games.”

Lakewood coach Chris Poisson has a little bit of a different take. Poisson said he wouldn't have minded a handful of practices after last year’s Class 5A state runner-up played four games at the La Jolla Country Day Tournament in California last week.

“We didn’t have time to fix much,” said Poisson, who will have played eight games by the end of this week. “We are doing it on the fly. We are doing it in games. There was progress. We aren’t where we will be.”

Lakewood's Sassy Coleman (32) goes up strong. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Lakewood (3-2 record), ranked No. 4 in the Class 5A girls basketball preseason poll, has changed up its offense after losing Kira Emsbo for the season. The twin sister of Camilla had surgery a few weeks ago to repair a torn ACL she suffered over the summer.

Without half the 6-foot-5 identical twins for the season, the Tigers won’t have the big size advantage it had hoped. Rebounding by committee is something Lakewood has it get used to do. Arapahoe (2-2) hit the offensive boards hard in the first half with some success and trailed just 34-27 at halftime.

“We have kind of revamped the whole offense,” said Camilla, who led the Tigers with 23 points. “We are just trying to find our flow in the new set. It might take awhile, but I think it will be worth it.”

Poisson said he saw progress in the Tigers offensively. Sophomore guard Nadia Trevizo had nine points in the first half. Senior Sassy Coleman finished in double-digits with 10 points.

“Our guards are the key,” Poisson said of Lakewood being successful on offense. “We know what we are going to get from Camilla. Everyone is going to defender her, but she is going to score. If you put five on her she is going to get points. She is special. We are at our best when our guards score with Nadia, Jessica (Woodhead) and Hannah (Renstrom).”

Lakewood's Camilla Emsbo (2) had a game-high 23 points Tuesday. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Lakewood didn’t shoot well in the second half, but Camilla was able to pour in five field goals and go 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. Coleman had a bucket inside and Woodhead hit a 3-pointer in the final minute.

The real story to the victory was the Tigers’ defense. The Warriors were held to just 12 points in the second half. Sophomore Kali March, who led Arapahoe with 12 points, had the lone field goal in the fourth quarter for the Warriors.

“Lakewood is all about defense,” Trevizo said.

Arapahoe scored just 2 points in the final 4:44 left in the game.

“We are trying to create our identity. The No. 1 part should be our defense,” Poisson said. “That can keep us in games when we aren’t scoring.”

Poisson takes his team to yet another tournament at the end of this week. The Tigers open at the Westminster Tournament at 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, against Legacy at Westminster High School.

Arapahoe has its home opener against No. 5 Highlands Ranch at 7 p.m. Thursday night.

Lakewood's Hannah Renstrom (12) splits Arapahoe's Anna McCollister (23) and Marley Delaney. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)