The Wellington School girls basketball team is ready to take the next step after finishing 12-7 a year ago, its first winning record since going 16-6 in 2002-03.

The Wellington School girls basketball team is ready to take the next step after finishing 12-7 a year ago, its first winning record since going 16-6 in 2002-03.

To do that, coach Tiffany Smith said the Jaguars will have to overcome a more challenging schedule. Wellington will play its first three games on the road -- against Gahanna Christian on Saturday, Worthington Christian on Tuesday and Columbus School for Girls on Dec. 4 -- before playing host to Columbus Academy on Dec. 9.

"We want to be over .500 this season and get past the second round of the (Division IV district) tournament," Smith said. "It's going to be challenging because we have a harder schedule, but I think that's going to be great for the girls. After playing our first three games on the road, it's going to make playing at home that much better."

Wellington lost graduates Andrea Wanamaker and J.J. Simms but returns much of its roster. The Jaguars will be led by senior guards Jillian Causey (5-foot-7), Marika Viragh (5-5), Laura Wilkie (5-5) and Brooke O'Brien (5-3).

The Jaguars defeated Fairfield Christian 45-33 in the first round of the district tournament last year for their first postseason win since the 2002-03 season. They lost to Ridgedale, an eventual district runner-up, 59-37 in the second round.

"Last year everything came together," Causey said. "It was our second year (with Smith) and we had a better understanding of her strategy and system. Once we started to understand it, we started winning more. Our team unity is a lot better this year. We've got four seniors coming back and a lot of freshmen coming up but the chemistry is there."

Also back are juniors Kara Concheck (6-2 forward), Colleen Durfee (5-2 point guard), Gabrielle Harper (5-7 guard), Anna Apostel (5-10 forward) and Kelly Sonnett (5-6 guard) and sophomores Grace Korandovich (5-9 guard) and Charity Jackson (5-4 guard).

"Last year, you could tell on the first day practice we were going to be all right," Smith said. "They were willing to do anything. I hope they gained a little more confidence from last year. With four seniors I think one of our strengths is going to be experience. That's not always been the case. We want to compete and get better every night."

Also on the team are freshman guards Andrea Flowers (5-5), Aris Troy (5-2), Brea Porter (5-3) and Morgan Peterson (5-3). Troy will serve as a backup to Durfee.

Because of the talent the Jaguars have back, Smith said she plans on having the team run the floor a lot more than they have in the past. The key, she said, will be how Wellington matures defensively.

"The scoring is going to come but we have to be able to stop the other team," Smith said. "We have to get better and pick it up defensively."