The Jefferson girls' basketball team lost its final seven games last season to finish 7-15.
It was a hard, but rewarding lesson for three freshmen on that team. And now the Colonials are 11-1, including winning their first nine games with a squad that has nine players with varsity experience.
"The surprising thing is that hardly anything has changed," said sophomore forward Maddie Regan, the team's second-leading scorer at 13.7 points per game. "It's pretty impressive that we've had such a big [turnaround] with such a small change in our roster."
The team's newfound success might be traced to the heavy minutes racked up by three freshmen last season. Regan and Lizzie Tallent started, and Kendall Stone was the first player off the bench for a squad that took Herndon to overtime in the district playoffs before losing by two points. All three freshmen were on the court in the final moments of that playoff loss.
"If we didn't take that chance last year, we'd be several steps behind where we are now," second-year coach T.J. Dade said.
Those three players are a year older and a year stronger, and have been joined on the roster by classmate Adrienne Young. The four sophomores are combining to average nearly 38 points a game for the No. 18 Colonials, who topped Herndon on Friday to improve to 3-1 in the AAA Concorde District. The sophomores have nicely complemented senior Julia Miller, the school's all-time leading scorer who is averaging double-digit points and rebounds.
"Last year all the freshmen were getting to know the league, and we weren't really sure about high school basketball and what it was all about," Tallent said. "Julia Miller helped us out a lot, and we just came back more confident this year. When you're confident, you can do anything."
-- Dan Steinberg