With what he knew he had returning when the basketball season ended last February, Ridge View High girls coach Terrence Gibson felt good about the 2009-10 campaign.
The arrival of transfers Jazzmine Johnson and Elizabeth Styles during the summer made him more confident his team can have a special season.
The Blazers went 14-7 last season, finishing third in Region 4-4A with a 6-4 record and losing 60-42 at Northwestern in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
From that team, seniors Destiny White, Maya Adams and Nicole Jones are returning starters this season.
Now Johnson, a senior guard who has signed to play at Seton Hall, and Styles, a junior who is being recruited by several Division I schools, have entered the mix after moving from out of state.
The newcomers began playing with the existing players when school started in August. When practice began, Gibson was pleased with what he saw.
"They have come together very well," Gibson said. "You are always concerned when new players come in. But there was no selfishness. It's like they've always been playing together."
Ridge View will be a senior-dominated team this season.
White, a 5-8, 150-pound senior, averaged 13 points per game last season. Adams, a 5-10 forward, contributed nine rebounds an outing while Jones, a 5-8 forward, hit 63 percent of her 3-pointers.
Johnson, a 5-8 senior guard, and Styles, a 5-3 junior guard, will add speed, shooting ability and defense to an impressive Ridge View backcourt.
Gibson's team, which didn't make the playoffs during his first season in 2007, found itself ranked No. 10 in the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association preseason rankings this month.
Of course, the bad news is Spring Valley, Ridge View's Richland District 2 and Region 4-4A rival, is ranked No. 1. The Vikings return their starting five from a 27-1 Class 4A state championship team that beat Ridge View twice.
While the Blazers have plenty of respect for the Vikings, they appear in better shape to battle them this time around.