WEST ISHPEMING, Mich. (WJMN) – It’s back to the basics for this year’s Westwood Girls Basketball Team. Without a single senior player on their roster, second year head coach Annie Skewis is preaching fundamentals as she looks to rebuild the program.

“We’re a really young team this year,” said Annie Skewis, the head coach for the Patriots. “I have one returning varsity player, three if you count the girls that came up towards the end of last year. So, we’re kind of young and we’re working on actually just game situations right now. Like you’re up by six let’s not try to dribble through three people kind of thing.”

“I think it’s going well so far,” said Megan Marta, a junior guard for the Patriots. “We’ve been working really hard on our defense and offense. I think we’re really coming together as a team being really young this year. We’re really just hustling and doing our best at practice just working really hard so we can do well this season.”

The one returning player with consistent game-time experience is junior Megan Marta. Marta is entering her third year as a varsity player and has walked the path many of the current Patriots are navigating through this season.

“I think Megan is doing a really good job being a leader out there,” said Skewis. “She’s a positive reinforcement and kind of helping them learn the ropes.”

“Me being probably the only varsity experienced player this year I’ve really taken on the role of making sure everybody is doing the best they can and always lifting people up when they get down,’ said Marta. “I’m really trying to focus on being a positive leader. Just focusing on making basketball fun for everybody and not making it a stressful experience and I think that I’m doing pretty well at it so far.”

Marta says she attributes a lot of the leadership qualities to what she learned from last year’s seniors in particular All-U.P. Dream Teamer, Natalie Prophet.

“She was a great talker on the court,” said Marta. “She always lifted people up if they got down and I’ve really taken that into my leadership skills. She really pushed people to be the best they can be and I’m really hoping to continue that in our program.”

“I think last year she kind of took a step back and let Natalie do more of that role where now she’s very verbal which is very nice and even coming off the court and telling me, ‘Hey, I see this, let’s try this,'” said Skewis. “So, she’s doing that a lot more which she is very much my floor general this year which is really nice.”

Don’t let the inexperience on the roster fool you. Marta is joined by a handful of underclassmen eager to prove they can be a contributor at the varsity level.

“Sophomore’s this year we have Lexi Olson and Izzie Marta,” said Marta. “With them I think we’re going to be able to be the fast team that we’re able to be. I think we have about three freshman coming up to varsity that is also going to support us in that aspect.”

“Mackenzie [Tourney] is one of our post players down low, she’s sets awesome picks,” said Skewis. “She would literally run through a brick wall for me and do anything I ask of her which is awesome. Izzie [Marta] is a ‘3’ guard, 3 or a 4 she can play both. She can knock down around in the post if she had to and has a very, very nice shot. The same thing with Lexi [Olson]. Even though she is not technically our point guard, she can release that pressure off of Megan if she wanted to. She tells me she would rather be a ‘2’ so I’m letting her be on that side a little bit but honestly she can dribble just as well. So, it’s really nice to have Lexi here and she’s a great shooter.”

Just a few games into the season the Patriots have already shown flashes of what they can become.

“I’m feeling good about this season,” said Izzie Marta, a sophomore forward for the Patriots. “I think we’re really young so it’s really good that we’re starting off strong. I think we’re doing a lot better than I expected. I think that we’re just doing good.”

“I think one of our main goals it to be a big threat on defense,” said Megan Marta. “We want to use our quickness so we’ve been focusing in on our press. I think one of our goals is to be know for that and be know for our defense and we’ve been working really hard at it. I think with that we can win more games than people expect and with that I’m excited to see how the season goes.”

“We’re going to take our lumps this year probably but maybe not, but I think we’re actually going to surprise some people,” said Skewis. “They work really, really hard. So, even though we don’t have five returning seniors like when it was my senior year, I still think they’re working hard. They’re going hard and intense and they would do anything for me and vice-versa I would do anything for them so it’s kind of reciprocal there and I think they know that and that’s why they are playing so hard already and they will continue to do so.”