STANLEY — The Stanley-Boyd girls basketball team firmly believes it will be a much improved squad this winter.

Early results show why the team is optimistic as the Orioles are off to a 2-0 start, already matching their win total from all of last season.

Stanley-Boyd picked up nonconference wins over Greenwood and Augusta prior to Thanksgiving, relying on a veteran cast of returners that took their lumps during a 2-21 campaign a season ago combined with some new faces at the varsity level.

“They’re all very eager to learn and they’re all pretty excited for the upcoming season, as I am,” Stanley-Boyd coach Alison Becker said. “They all get along really well and that’s always a positive.”

The team returns four starters with Arianna Mason, Ella Koenig, Kate McLoone and Kenzie Vircks along with Hayley Nichols, Savanna Anderson, Brooke Noonan and Grace Williams who all saw plenty of varsity action a season ago. Mason averaged 16 points, six rebounds and two assists per game and competed at the season end WIAA Girls Basketball 3-Point Challenge in Green Bay. Koenig, McLoone and Vircks all scored at least eight points in one contest a season ago to help with the veteran core of the team.

Stanley-Boyd will also benefit from an infusion of new talent. Senior forward and UW-Milwaukee commit Tahlia Walton has started her first varsity season with the Orioles with a bang, averaging 23.5 points per game through her first two games. Walton transferred to Stanley-Boyd from Eau Claire Memorial prior to her junior season, but was ruled ineligible to compete last season by the WIAA. She honed her game at the junior varsity level and has gotten off to a strong start, giving the Orioles as effective of a 1-2 punch with Walton and Mason as any team in the Western Cloverbelt Conference. Freshmen Aaliyah Moore (5-foot-11) and Hannah Hause (5-foot-8) bring talent and length to floor.

“We’ve got another threat with Tahlia. We have some newcomers that are going to surprise some people and we have our seniors. They’re very solid and they do a lot of good things for us as well,” Becker said.

Stanley-Boyd opens the conference schedule on Friday at home against McDonell before playing at Cadott (Dec. 5) and hosting Thorp (Dec. 8) next week. The Orioles are looking to climb back into the top half of the league standings after finishing there in Becker’s first three seasons and the fifth-year Oriole coach said if the team wants to do that, it will need to play strong defense and hustle.

“As long as everyone stays healthy and is in it and believes in the process, we should do fine,” Becker said.

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Chippewa Herald sports editor

Chippewa Herald Sports Editor

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