SOUTH BELOIT-The South Beloit girls basketball team's improvement can clearly be seen in its won-loss record.
After all, the SoBos have already matched last season's victory total of three.
But the improvement can be seen in its defeats, also. Monday night, the SoBos took the floor against an experienced Orangeville team that pounded them by 29 points when the teams met last February.
The Broncos were made to work for all 32 minutes of their 60-48 victory this season.
Kaya Lervik led the SoBos with 12 points, while Kristina Counts and Jenna Lynde each added 10.
Second-year coach Steven Picavet believes that familiarity has been a key to the SoBos' improved play.
"It's another year of them being together," Picavet said. "We only lost one senior last year, and I completely switched up our defensive scheme, and we are a lot more aggressive this year. Scoring consistency has been our issue this year. We're going to keep improving, and as long as we do that, we'll be ready to play our best ball when regionals roll around."
The SoBos dug a significant hole for themselves after a shoddy first quarter. Trailing 14-3, South Beloit made a charge, cutting the Bronco lead to 26-20 at intermission.
Twice, South Beloit cut the Orangeville lead to one point in the third quarter before a game-changing, 10-0 run by the Broncos ended the third quarter.
"That was a tough way to go into the fourth quarter," Lervik said. "It was a little discouraging for us, but I think we just need to have a little more of the mentality that whatever happens, we can come back."
Alyssa Ostendorf was a significant problem for the SoBos all evening as she scored 22 of her 29 points in the second half, while Emily George added 15 as the two combined for nearly 75 percent of Orangeville's points.
After trailing by 11 heading into the fourth quarter, the SoBos upped the defensive pressure, and thanks to several steals by the speedy Lervik, the Bronco lead was cut to six.
Solid free throw shooting down the stretch by Orangeville ultimately proved to be the difference, but Lervik and her teammates were hardly discouraged following the game.
"You can just compare the scores to last year and you can see how much better we've gotten," Lervik said. "We are playing with a lot more drive and a lot more confidence than we have in the past."
Picavet has put an end to the coaching carousel that was the SoBos girls job for several years.
"It's been tough on these kids, having to learn a new offense every single year," Picavet said. "I think having that familiarity has really helped. They are playing together so much better and that's been a big part of it."
The relentless energy Lervik brings to the table has certainly played a large role in the team's success also. She poured in a career-best 29 points in a game earlier this season.
"She's 100 percent effort, all the time," Picavet said. "Full throttle. She wants to play at the next level, and she's good enough to be able to do that."
The SoBos will be back in action Tuesday night when they travel to Hiawatha.