LYONS — From 2012 to 2014, the Lyons girls basketball team won just 11 games.
The Lions have separated themselves from that long period of limited success. So far this season, the Lions are 15-7 and with a potential regional tournament victory this weekend, the Lions have a shot to reach the Class 2A state tournament for the first time since 1993.
Though the Lions have been perhaps the most surprising team in 2A, junior guard Maddy Maguire had a pretty good idea early on that a resurgent season was in the cards.
"I think a lot of it has to do with the coaching," Maguire said. "A lot of us were on a team together when we were little and my dad was the coach then. This year we've come together and we're unified. We love each other and we worked hard this summer and that shows on the court. We knew we were a good team at the beginning and we just wanted to hard and take it one game at a time."
Several of the Lions players attributed this season's success to head coach Jason Maguire's leadership. Maguire coached the Lyons boys team for 17 years before taking a hiatus from coaching four years ago, and he also coached many of the Lions girls when they were younger. The team also adopted a new regimen of weightlifting and basketball camps during the offseason.
Led by junior Taylor Christiansen (11.9 ppg), the Lions have even advanced past the district tournament round for the first time since the 2010-11 season, which was the last campaign in which the Lions had a winning record.
"This is my first year playing with this team and we came in with a ton of enthusiasm," sophomore forward IxChel Leeuwenburgh said. "We just had that feeling that his year was something different and that change was coming. Having no seniors means that we can only get better and the possibilities are endless considering we have another full year together."
The Lions' 2015-16 season has included three win streaks three or more games but it has not gone off without a hitch. The Lions barely escaped the district tournament when their shots stopped falling and the lost two games with season-low scoring outputs and they lost captain Liz Jonjak-Plahn to a knee injury about a month ago.
Perhaps as exciting as this season's success has been, the Lions don't have a single senior on their roster. Win or lose this weekend, they are already setting their expectations even higher for next season.
"It's a good group of girls," Jason Maguire said. "I knew what they were capable of doing. We did some different things like installing a full-court press and running, which has the girls excited. We've also been able to pull out some close wins this season, which speaks a lot to the girls' mental toughness. It's an exciting time."