eschickler@bcnnew.com

This could be a history-making year for the Weston girls basketball team. With a strong cast of returning players, Weston has a solid chance of qualifying for the SWC tournament for the first time and everything goes right, the team has a legitimate chance of winning the Class M title.

Working in the Lady Trojans' favor is that it only lost one player to graduation, senior captain Marissa Diaz, who was a defensive sparkplug and quick. They will also miss senior center Julia Roth, who decided to focus on softball.

"I'm very excited about the year," said Weston coach Pat Cole. "It's fun to watch the kids get back into a rhythm."

Last year, the Lady Trojans qualified for states for the first time in four years, finishing the regular season with an 8-12 record, 8-13 overall.

Everything starts with senior captain Brittany Swanson, the team's leading scorer the past two years. At 5-10, Swanson is built to play forward and usually plays there, but because of her lethal shot and play-making ability, she sees time in the backcourt as well.

The other captains are senior lefty Jessica Welsh and Natalie Ordierna. The 5-7 Welsh is a solid shooter and defender and can play at point guard, shooting guard or small forward. Despite being 5-4, Odierna brings toughness to the court and is similar to retired NBA player Charles Barkley in the way she has won many battles inside against much bigger players.

Junior Christina Welsh (Jessica's sister) is the starting point guard and adroitly sets up her teammates with textbook passes. The younger Welsh is also a sharp shooter and can drain it from outside. Defensively, she turns stealing into an artform in the way she strips opponents of the ball and goes in for easy layups off the transition.

Providing a little bit of everything for Weston is junior Hannah Hutchins. Hutchins will see time at shooting guard, small forward and power forward and is a solid rebounder and defender. She's also a capable shooter and has lit it up from outside.

Giving the Lady Trojans a strong inside game are junior Dakota Sloop and sophomore Ellie Martin. They are both outstanding rebounders and Sloop is renowned for her shot blocking and defense. Martin has improved and is developing into a front-court scoring threat.

Sophomores Liana Hursh and Sarah Schwartz will come off the bench as a forward post player and guard, respectively. Three freshman are expected to see time at varsity, starting with freshman lefty Taylor Swanson (Brittany's sister). The younger Swanson is a point guard and possesses a shooting touch. Morgan Moubayed is an athletic guard and will be in the lineup once her soccer injury heals. The 5-11 Emily Savitsky is a post player. Savitsky is tough and aggressive and Cole plans on using her in certain situations.

"I'm looking forward to the season," said Odierna. "We're in position to shock the SWC and Class M as well. I don't know if we can win states but I would love to win it. I hope to make it past the first round of States."

Brittany Swanson said, "I think we'll do great. We have a great group of girls and a lot of them are very talented. I think my sister will bring a lot to the team. Ellie Martin and Dakota will do a good job in the post."

Jessica Welsh said, "I hope we make SWCs and we hope to have one home game in the state tournament. I think we will definitely do it. We will re-evaluate our goals as the season progresses."

One thing working against Weston is the program not having big numbers, soserious injuries to the front liners could prove hurtful.

"As long as we stay healthy, we'll be in good shape," said Jessica Welsh. "We have a solid core group of players who improved in the offseason. We have to maintain our morale no matter what happens. We have quality but not quantity."

Currently, Brittany Swanson is out of the lineup because of mono and Odierna is out with an injury. They are expected back in the lineup soon.

"We'll have to stay healthy because our numbers work against us," said Brittany Swanson.

The Lady Trojans know what they have to do and are ready to go.

Brittany Swanson said, "Our goal is to make SWCs and go far in States. We have to play together, be aggressive, attack the other team and use our strength to our advantage."