Lake Oswego girls basketball coach Joe Williamson thinks his program has turned a corner as it starts the 2011-2012 season.
The Lakers return the bulk of their roster from last year, losing just one senior and have both balance and depth.
"There will be a lot of teams battling to be in the upper part of our league and I think this team believes they'll be there which is what I've wanted since I started here," Williamson said.
Lake Oswego is off to a strong start this year, going 2-1 at a tournament in Hawaii and then pounding Sandy on Tuesday.
The Lakers can do a little bit of everything this year. Paige Timberg has been an early bright spot in the paint for the team, putting up big numbers in Hawaii.
"She's really caught on to what we've been preaching, which is to be aggressive at all times," Williamson said.
The Lakers also have strong guard play between Marlee Chovich and Ali Binns, both of whom can attack the rim and shoot well from the outside.
Amber Swayne will also be a key contributor at shooting guard with both Alexa Moiso and Libby Nielsen filling in at small forward.
"We don't really have much a of a drop-off at any position. I feel good about anyone I bring in off the bench," Williamson said.
Laura Nichols should also see plenty of minutes at power forward behind Timberg while both Lindsay Shallman and Cassi Jarrell will be difficult match-ups at the post.
"We have good size and athletic guards who can shoot well and handle the ball," Williamson said.
The team has been focusing on its efforts defensively and working on execution early in the season.
"We can always do better at communicating and on offense we want to get everyone involved and to be a threat. But I really like our competitiveness and our physical nature so far," Williamson said.
Lake Oswego started the year with a trip to Maui that saw the Lakers advance to the title game before falling to Lahainaluna 50-42.
The Lakers opened the season with a convincing 69-15 victory over Maui High School, getting 20 points from Timberg. Lake Oswego gave up just eight points through three quarters in the win.
In the second game, the Lakers used a 17-4 burst in the third quarter to clinch a 53-31 win over Hawaii Baptist, getting 18 more points from Timberg in the victory.
In the tournament title game the Lakers took on the defending Hawaii state champions and lost in a game that Lake Oswego was in until the final minutes.
Lake Oswego rebounded on Tuesday in its home opener, blasting Sandy 73-42, keyed by an 18-2 run in the second quarter.
The Lakers' guards were tough for Sandy to slow down as Binns and Moiso each scored 17 points.
The Lakers will play a strong preseason schedule and host the Interstate Shootout again but the tournament will take place at Lakeridge High Schools due to problems with the gym room at Lake Oswego.