Largely because of a long-range shooting attack led by junior Nikki Pollich, West Springfield is enjoying girls basketball again.

After going 8-15 last season, the Spartans won five of their first nine games this season with an offense that relies on the three-point shot.

"I shoot a lot of them," said Pollich, a 5-7 junior. "It seems like when we hit three-pointers our team gets a boost. When we're not going well, I'll look to put one up."

At a Longwood College camp in Lynchburg, Va., Pollich improved her shooting "200 percent." She has made 11 three-point shots, though only averaging 10 points a game. Her numbers would be higher if not for the crowded conditions around the three-point line in West Springfield's offense.

Erin Riddle (four three-pointers) and Chris Parrett (six) do not hesitate to shoot the long jumpers. Several other players shoot from beyond the line and the Spartans are making better than 40 percent of their attempts from three-point range. But there is method to this three-point madness.

"What it does is force teams to go man-to-man and it makes them come and get us," said Coach Bill Gibson. "If they come out, we go by them and create things. If they don't come out, we go ahead and shoot it.

"To me it's a little more exciting. It's a different light and the girls enjoy it," said Gibson. "You have to keep it fun. They know they have a chance to shoot and it brings the guards into play -- a reason to want to handle the ball."

Gibson says "six or seven girls" are allowed to take three-point shots, but Pollich has been the most prolific.

"We emphasize 'play the rebound' and we play anticipating the miss," said Gibson. "The girls are taught to follow {their shots} and we have at least a 50-50 chance of getting the rebound."

Said Pollich: "That's pretty much going to be our offense. We're really quick and chances are if we miss we can follow it up and get the rebound."

For West Springfield's players, the new rule has become old hat. "Since we practice it so much it just seems like any other shot," said Pollich. "I don't think about it that much."