DOWNERS GROVE – Confidence suits Downers Grove North’s girls basketball team just fine.
The Trojans won just nine games last season, but head coach Stephan Bolt said that last year’s subpar showing combined with a handful of single-digit losses expedited the maturation process for a young squad which returned only one all-conference player – senior guard Sarah Costello.
“We have grown a lot in the last year,” Bolt said. “They really care about each other and they are a close-knit group of girls. It goes a long way and it really shows on the floor.”
Experience and chemistry have turned the program around and the team now expects to win every game, Bolt said. So far, the Trojans’ play is living up to the expectations, as they are 6-1 and unbeaten in two West Suburban Silver conference games.
“This team expects to win when they step on the court because they know that they have put in a lot of hard work during practice and the offseason,” Bolt said. “I think we lacked confidence and an expectation to win last season, but this year we are prepared to handle those challenges.”
The Trojans won three out of four games at the Glenbard East Invite over the Thanksgiving weekend – their only loss coming during the championship game against Oak Lawn.
In the two games after Thanksgiving, North dismantled WSS conference foes Oak Park-River Forest, 59-42, and Glenbard West, 67-23.
Costello and sophomore Jaida Green lead the team in scoring. The Trojan captains are averaging 13.1 and 18.3 points per game, respectively, while starters Peyton Winters (11.7 points per game) and Lauren Porcelli (six points per game) have also been key offensive components.
“We have scorers at every position that have stepped up this season,” Costello said. “Our offense is not about one person, but the collective unit. We come into every game with a team-first mentality and try to spread around the offense as much as possible.”
As dynamic as the offense has been, Bolt believes his team’s biggest asset is its defense. North is giving up an average 35.8 points per game, holding five opponents to under 40 points and three of those opponents to under 30 points.
“The defense, especially in the Glenbard West game, has made a commitment to getting stops,” Bolt said. “Every time down the floor, they were ready to play defense. That has to be what we are about if we want to remain successful.”
Downers Grove North played at home against York on Monday and will continue the home stand against WSS rival Hinsdale Central and standout scorer Gabby Rush on Saturday.