When Lindsey Smith was hired as Columbus School for Girls' strength and conditioning coach in January, several Unicorns basketball players began training with her.
Smith, who was hired as CSG's interim athletics director and basketball coach in June, believes her players now are better conditioned than many of their opponents.
The Unicorns, who finished 1-20 overall a year ago, opened Nov. 27 with a 42-25 loss at Grandview. They lost at Bloom-Carroll 47-21 on Nov. 29 and opened CCL play Dec. 5 at Ready.
"We're not a very big team and we don't have many girls who play basketball year-round," Smith said. "But they really bought into our strength-and-conditioning program and we do more fitness and strength-building than any other team. The girls have told me they feel a lot different than they have in the past, and they're in such great shape that they're going to be able to wear other teams down. It really helps you make better decisions late in games when you have your legs and lungs beneath you."
Returning to lead the Unicorns are 5-foot-6 senior center Haleigh Wilson, 5-8 senior forward Joan Darnell, 5-8 junior guard Lindsey Hester, 5-8 sophomore guard Kameron Millner and 5-6 sophomore point guard Myrial Holbrook.
Completing the roster are 5-8 junior center Kelsey Warren, sophomores Sai Alapati (5-6, guard) and Rebecca O'Donovan (5-5, guard) and freshmen Olivia Feldman (5-5, guard), Asia Livingstone (5-6, guard), Reagan Moran (5-8, center) and Annie Parkhill (5-9, forward).
Smith is assisted by Heather Welsh.
Against Grandview, Parker scored nine points and Hester scored seven.
Wilson and Hester each scored six points against Bloom-Carroll.
"I've never coached a team that's had such an incredible work ethic throughout every bit of practice like this," Smith said.
"A lot of our girls don't touch a basketball for most of the year so it's taking awhile for their shots to come. But we're fast and athletic, and they're a very coachable group."
Last season, CSG went 0-8 in the CCL to place fifth behind co-champions DeSales and Watterson (6-2), Hartley (5-3) and Ready (3-5).
The Unicorns lost to fifth-seeded Johnstown 62-13 in their Division III district tournament opener.
"The girls have told me that there was tension within the team last year, but I haven't seen anything like that here this year," Smith said.
"Our theme is 'unified' and we have that word printed on our practice jerseys."