For a basketball team to be successful, it has to have a couple of standout players and a group of complementary players.
While Rafe King and Matt Nolan have grabbed the spotlight for the Carson High boys basketball team this year, the Senators couldn't have accomplished a lot of what they have done without the versatile 6-foot forward Chris Lopez.
Lopez, who suits up for the last time at Morse Burley Gym tonight in the regional championship game against Hug, is the epitome of a role player. Sometimes he starts and sometimes he comes off the bench, and he'll tell you matter-of-factly that he prefers the latter.
The word unselfish has his mug shot next to it in the dictionary. Lopez is all about the team.
The senior, who was forced to play point guard much of last year, has averaged 4.8 points, 1.9 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 rebounds a game. He is the second leading rebounder behind King with 102 total and leads the team in offensive rebounding with 40.
"I'm proud of Chris," said Carson coach Carlos Mendeguia. "He's come a long way. It's only his second year of organized basketball. He's gotten his act together in the classroom, and he's played big role in our success."
And Lopez's success has been at both ends of the floor. He plays bigger, and you'll never see him back away despite giving up several inches (sometimes) and a lot of pounds against opponents.
"I look forward to it (playing against bigger opponents)," Lopez said. "I take it as a challenge. I try to play hard, night in and night out. I know I'm going to make some mental mistakes. I just try to go out and give it my all."
Defense is about effort, and when you have a work ethic like Lopez's, you are going to have success. His rebounding at the offensive end has been especially impressive.
"He just has a nose for the ball," Mendeguia said. "He's a quick jumper, and he has the ability to tip the ball to himself. He's one of our best rebounders."
- Darrell Moody