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Rosie Avalos, La Serna’s 4-year varsity starter, has it all

WHITTIER — The first game of the 2021 high school basketball season may still be six months away, but La Serna senior Rosalie Avalos has been waiting four years for this moment.


“I’m nervous, because I really want this year,” said Avalos, who goes by Rose. “It’s been a year that I’ve been working towards. I’m a little nervous, but excited if it happens.”


Lancers coach Steve Hemenway, who no doubt can’t wait either, has high praise for the four-year varsity starter.


“I believe Rose is developing into the best player to come out of La Serna,” said Hemenway, who has coached the Lancers girls basketball team for two different stints, is entering his 21st season overall.


He has led his team to eight league titles in that time.


“I have developed a great deal of respect for (Avalos), not only as a player, but as a truly wonderful young lady,” Hemenway said. “She is a favorite of her teammates, and beloved by her teachers.


“I’m her number-one fan and she knows what she needs to do. She and I have a very open communication. She’s very smart and mature.”


Hemenway, who is also the La Serna athletic director, also said of Avalos, “….she carries close to a 4.0 GPA and has lofty academic goals as well as wanting to play ball at the next level (college).”


Avalos, who has been the team captain since the end of her freshman year, earned second team All-Del Rio league honors as a freshman and was first team in her sophomore and junior years.


“She is a fantastic leader, both vocally and physically,” Hemenway added. “She has the complete game.


“She can handle the ball as a point guard, shoot from the outside as a two-guard, drive from the wing as a small forward, dominate the post as a power forward and rebound as well as a taller center.


“Her sole weakness is her inconsistency, and if she is able to play her senior year, that will be the area of greatest improvement this season.”



Girls basketball head coach Steve Hemenway feeds senior Rosalie Avalos as she shoots at La Serna High School in Whittier. (Photo by Keith Durflinger)


Avalos’ leadership will be huge this season as a veteran player in hopes of leading the team in league and post season action.


“She’s going to be a leader, no matter what,” Hemenway said. “From the day she stepped foot into this gym as a freshman, she obviously has the athletic ability.


“She’s such a wonderful young lady and just leads by example and pulls the team together when it’s time and makes sure everybody is doing their job. No matter what happens this year, I’m hoping and praying that she gets to finish this thing the way she should. She’ll be a success in life, no matter what.”


Teammate and friend, senior guard, Aleksa Gonzalez, who is a four-year varsity player, had this to say about Rose – “She’s a great teammate. As time went on we became close. We were rivals in travel ball. It’s important having Rose be a team leader.


Rosalie has four sisters: Isabelle, Ryanne, Jovanne and Ava. 



Senior Rosalie Avalos, captain of the Girls Basketball team, makes a shot at La Serna High School in Whittier. (Photo by Keith Durflinger)


Greenleaf Guardian interview:


Guardian: With the veteran players on this year’s team, what are your expectations?


Coach Hemenway: This is the year since I came back for the second effort at this thing. We have eight seniors that have been playing on varsity since their freshman year. This is the culmination of all the work that they’ve put in. I’m going to feel horrible for them if they don’t get the chance, and if they do, they’re going to be one of the best teams in the area that there’s been in several years.


The funny thing about this group is that we’ve had so many injuries since I’ve been back. We’ve had four ACL tears in the first three years back with this group. If we do get everybody back healthy, it’ll be the first time since their freshman year that they’ve been able to play as a group. It’s exciting. We’ve got players that lost anywhere from nine to 14 months of their eligibility because of a knee injury. We really hope that they get the chance to pull together and see what they could be.


Guardian: How has COVID-19 affected you?


Avalos: If COVID allows us to play, I think we’ve had a lot of time to rest, but we’ve also had a lot of time to work on our craft individually. I think when we get back, we are going to be a lot more passionate and ready to play and giving it our all out there.


I haven’t really seen my teammates, and with all of the baskets being down, it’s hard. This quarantine has helped me realize that basketball is fun and to enjoy it. All I can say is its torture (waiting). It feels like my future is in someone else’s hands. I’m hoping we do get together soon.


Guardian: What are the questions on the season?


Coach Hemenway: This year there’s a couple of questions.


The main one is when will the restrictions be lifted? We’re prepared for everything. That’s the thing about it. All of us athletic directors have had to redo every schedule of every game of every level. The uncertainty is the obvious in the plan. We hope things clear up and we hope things go like their supposed to, but there’s certainly no guarantee.



Avalos (on this year’s team): We’re all going to support each other. I think our team has a lot of good players. That CIF loss (1st round, ’19) really motivates us in the playoffs.


I just feed into it and I allow them to play the way that they want to play and support them in any way that I can.


Avalos (on her game): I’m a very emotional player and that upsets my game sometime, especially against teams that I want to play.


Avalos (on coach Hemingway): He communicates very honestly about my game. He knows that I want to play in college and he is critiquing me for that reason. He definitely doesn’t like to lose.


It’s good that he coaches me hard. That’s why I am where I am now.


Avalos (on her family): I’m a big family person. That’s part of the reason I work so hard. My parents (Valerie Hernandez and Johnny Avalos) have supported me and I want to make them proud.


Avalos (on her college plans): It’s always been a dream of mine to play DI.


Avalos (on her plans after basketball): My mom, sister (Isabelle) and I would like to go into the business field, specializing in beauty.

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