Making it to the third round of the Class 4A playoffs in March was no small task for the Irmo girls basketball team.
Repeating the feat - and surpassing it - is an even taller order for the 2009-10 Yellow Jackets.
Coach Monica Williams' team last year earned Region 5's No. 3 seed after being outsized by teams such as Dutch Fork and state finalist Orangeburg-Wilkinson.
"Our region was so tough last year," said Williams, whose team finished 16-8. "We just had some good teams in our conference and we didn't have a lot of size to compete with them."
This year, Williams believes her team has what it takes to compete for the region title and make another deep playoff run.
It starts with Sarah Green, a 6-2 all-state center whom the SCBCA ranked among the state's five best seniors in Class 4A.
Green said the preseason honor pulled into focus her role as leader for the Yellow Jackets, and has given her more motivation to be the x-factor that Irmo needs.
"I'm there to pull down rebounds, but I've got to be more of a scoring threat, too," Green said.
Green spends extra time in the gym before and after practice working on her shooting, and adjusting to the role of team leader.
"Come game time, I've got to be confident that I am one of the strongest players in the state and I'm going to play like it," she said.
The task of leading the Yellow Jackets does not fall solely on Green's shoulders.
She is one of six seniors - three of them starters- returning to the black-and-gold bench. Guard Brooke McCants and forward Brianna Stanton also are expected to make a major impact for the Yellow Jackets.
Williams said the two are important to getting the team's transition game flowing, a crucial element for a team that still is going to be a bit smaller than the competition.
"Our transition game is looking well," Williams said. "And we'll have a strong inside-outside game. If (our opponents) want to clog up the middle, I think we have the guards that can put it in the basket instead."
Williams also believes the Yellow Jackets will be better able to handle defensive pressure, in part because of Stanton and McCants' growth through the offseason.
The Yellow Jackets also are working on a remedy to their size issue.
"I've got some younger players so even though they are going to be a little less experienced, we're bigger than we were last year," Williams said.
Six-foot-2 sophomore Desiree McCray is a noticeable addition inside. McCray can play center in place of Green, but she also can run the floor as a forward, along with Jemekia Wilson and Brittany Golden, both 5-11.
With all these pieces falling into place, Williams is confident her team can be one of the state's finest. To that effect, the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association put the Yellow Jackets at No. 2 in its preseason rankings.
"I told the kids that we were probably going to be ranked pretty high," Williams said. "No. 2 is higher than I expected, but the kids still pretty much know the pressure is going to be on us."
Fortunately for the Yellow Jackets, they are ready for that, too.