ATWATER — Jessica Silva's seen numerous changes in her three years on the Buhach Colony High basketball team.
The Thunder won just two games in the guard's freshman year. BC claimed a share of the school's first ever Central California Conference crown just two years later.
With seven returners from the championship squad and a couple quality transfers, everything will change for Silva and her teammates again. The longtime underdogs now have to deal with the pressures and expectations of being the favorite.
"It's definitely different," Silva said. "But I think it helps that we haven't achieved a lot of our goals.
"We're pretty motivated to win the CCC all by ourselves. And last year, we technically got in the playoffs (with a play-in game), but we want to play in the first round."
Buhach certainly seems to have the pieces in place to make that happen.
The Thunder return their one-two scoring punch of Silva and point guard Allison Wisdom.
Perhaps more importantly, sophomore sisters Brandy and Barbara Coward are looking to make major strides in their second season of varsity basketball.
BC managed to win a share of the title with Wisdom and Silva basically being the only consistent scoring threats. The team appears to have a number of players prepared to step up and share some of that burden.
"I feel like we should be better than we were last year," BC head coach Shane Gentry said. "Jessica and Allison have one more year of varsity experience under their belts.
"I feel like the biggest difference on our team this year is the offensive production we think we'll get from Barbara and Brandy.
"They exceeded my expectations as freshmen. They were fast. They played aggressive and defended well, but they weren't great finishers.
"They've put in a lot of work in the offseason to get better offensively. Last year we lacked that third and fourth scorer. If they can contribute regularly, we're going to be tough to beat."
The Cowards aren't the only ones spreading the scoring load. Junior transfer Taj Seals has chipped in 4.3 points per game off of the BC bench. Seals gives the Thunder some extra size on the interior.
Even with the additions, BC's best bet is to run on offense. The Thunder aren't big, but they can get after it with an athletic, smothering press.
"I think we've improved a lot at scoring in our halfcourt offense, but we're the most affective when we're pressing and pushing the ball," Wisdom said. "It's kind of fun having people think of us as favorites, but we haven't won anything yet.
"There's still some good teams in the CCC and our goals aren't just going to be handed to us. We like our team, we just need to go out and do it now."