The Skyview girls basketball team is really starting to bug people.
"We're little ants, and we work harder than anybody else," junior Aubrey Ward-El said Friday night after recording a double-double in a 63-36 victory over Battle Ground.
Once the Storm got in touch with their inner insect, they've been pests to the competition.
A month ago, Skyview had fallen to 3-6 overall. Today, the Storm sit in first place in the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League at 7-0, and they have won eight in a row overall.
The turnaround came about under the leadership of Ward-El and junior Stephanie McDonagh, the two most experienced players returning from last season. You remember last season, right? When McDonagh and Ward-El each connected on 3-pointers to win games in the state tournament?
This season's squad could not win any games by just showing off that championship trophy, though.
"This is not our state championship team. But we couldn't sit around and dwell on that," Ward-El said. "We have talent. We just had to bring it out. We're not afraid. We're not afraid of any team. We just don't back down."
That's what Skyview coach Jennifer Buscher was hoping to hear when she challenged Ward-El and McDonagh after the slow start this season.
"I told them 'This is your team. The girls are going to follow you.' They have just instilled this will to win in our kids," Buscher said. "We might not be the most talented group of kids, but Stephanie and Aubrey refuse to lose. When you have kids like that on your team, good things can happen."
Friday night, Ward-El scored 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting, plus she grabbed 12 rebounds. This year, she is playing every position on the floor.
"I hope for five (rebounds)," she said with a smile. "I'm technically a guard, but I guess I'm playing the Brooke Bowen role. I play guard, but I can post up, too."
Bowen was the state tournament MVP last season, now playing at Seattle Pacific University.
Gen Lo and Neesen Bristow each had 11 points for the Storm. Hannahjoy Adams added eight points.
McDonagh settled for four points, but Buscher said McDonagh is the defensive stopper, the one who fuels the rest of the team on defense.
Skyview forced 33 turnovers, including 23 steals against the Tigers.
"We're having a lot of younger players step up. It's not one all-star player," Ward-El said.
Opponents scout the Storm, but that does not always help, she added.
"They don't have a way to stop us because somebody else steps up each time."
Skyview led 16-5 after the first quarter, then 29-11 at the half. The Tigers, who reached the bi-district tournament last year, fell to 1-6 in league play.
Haley Hamilton had a big second half for the Tigers, scoring 13 of her 17 points. She also had seven steals. Jossilyn Blackman had nine points and 12 rebounds. She was 7 of 9 from the line.
This night -- as well as the last eight nights for Skyview -- belonged to the Storm.
This is not their state championship team from a year ago, but it is a their team that is in first place right now.
An army of ants, working together.
SKYVIEW 63, BATTLE GROUND 36
BATTLE GROUND -- Haley Hamilton 17, Malory Olson 5, Jossilyn Blackman 9, Courtney Knott 5, Alena Jarvis 0, Kylie Smith 0, Dominique Lyon 0, Kenzie Sachen 0, Carly Hershberger 0. Totals 13-39 (2-4) 8-11 36.
SKYVIEW -- Stephanie McDonagh 4, Aubrey Ward-El 19, Cassie Swartz 1, Gen Lo 11, Neesen Bristow 11, Hannahjoy Adams 8, Megan Condon 0, Alex Hull 0, Tiana Klutz 3, Marissa Wellington 6, Georgia Romine-Black 0. Totals 20-58 (3-16) 20-30 63.
B.Ground 5 6 8 17--36
Skyview 16 13 14 20--63