While programs like Southeast and Waterloo are winning in the County Division thanks to experienced leaders, the Garfield G-Men have hung around because of talented underclassmen.
Players like freshmen guard Madisson Geddes and forward Alicia Witte, along with sophomore guard Becky Kirk have meshed well with seniors Jackie Tabor and Melody Bright to form a strong core of players.
For the most part, this year's Garfield team is still very much trying to figure out its best way to reach the win column on a consistent basis.
"We've played nine games this year, and we've had nine different starting lineups," Garfield head coach Aaron Gilbert said.
"We just haven't had five players step up this season and say, 'This is my spot in the starting lineup'."
Tabor has been a constant in the lineup this season, leading the team in scoring (11 ppg). Gilbert said a number of Division III colleges, both local and out of state, are looking at Tabor as she continues to develop her game.
Bright has also stepped up her game this year, averaging 5.8 points to go along with three rebounds and has developed into a reliable scoring option for the G-Men.
However, it has been first-year players in freshmen Witte (7.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Geddes (6.4 ppg, 1.5 spg) that have had an instant impact and helped turn around a program that won just one game last season.
While he said it would be preferable to have five players he knows that he can count on, Gilbert's arrangement has worked out well for Garfield through the first half of the season.
"I think, in a way, it's good because it lets everyone know that they can really have a chance to start on this team and that (the coaches) are not locked into just five people," Gilbert said. "We play all 10 people on our roster, and we need all 10 people because they each do something unique that makes them valuable to us."
YOU HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE
With a sizable victory over Middlefield Cardinal last week, Garfield closed out the month of December four wins and three losses.
The G-Men finished 1-20 last season and were a .500 team in 2010-11, so finishing above .500 in a month is a nice step for a program still learning how to win consistently.
"It's probably been since December of 2010 since we played a winning month of basketball," Gilbert said. "So it's good for the girls to see that the hard work they're putting in is actually paying off."
Gilbert pointed to the team's Dec. 22 victory over Champion, 55-49, as a turning point for the squad.
"I think that the win at Champion was really big for us," Gilbert said. "It almost came as a surprise to see the things they work on pay off and that has really given them a lot of confidence."
GAMES OF THE WEEK
League play gets back under way on Saturday with a pair of big divisional games as Southeast travels to take on Windham and Ravenna takes on the Field Falcons.
Southeast is still undefeated in the County Division and has looked great through the first half of its schedule. All that stands between the Pirates and a 7-0 mark at the turn is a trip to Windham and a talented group of Bombers.
Both teams have great shooters in Brittany Butcher (Southeast) and Jessica Isler (Windham), but keep an eye on the post as Southeast senior forward Shayna White goes up against Windham forwards Dari Heller and Morgan Schreiner.
Windham does not have anyone who can physically match White, but Heller may have the ability to offset her with her nose for the basketball.
Ravenna and Field enter Saturday's showdown in a second-place tie behind Norton in the Metro Division standings.
Youngsters like guard Deja Sanders and forward Taylor Geib have emerged for the Ravens this year, but the Falcons also showcase a underlcassman in sophomore forward Camille Adelman. Meanwhile, Tiffany Spaller has also played a key role in the program's resurgence in the division.