You all know the saying. It may be a cliché, but it's a question to which the Manchester Valley girls basketball team expects to have answers.
The reigning county champions closed out the 2015-16 season with a loss to Southern Garrett in the Class 1A West Region final, capping a 24-2 record. The county's most successful team on the court is facing some changes this year, but last year's success is certainly a boost.
"I think that 24-2 record means a lot," junior guard Mackenzie DeWees said. "Our new girls this year will fit in just fine but you'll see us bring different things. Some will be things we did last year, but once you see us come together and click, it will be something brand new that no one will expect. We're a threat and I think coming off that run last year, you'll see us do really well."
North Carroll closed its doors at the end of the school year and as a result, many of its students transferred to Man Valley to resume their education. Former Panthers-turned-Mavericks joined new sports teams, and with larger numbers the Mavericks now compete in 3A.
"I'm really excited to see how the season goes," DeWees said. "I've seen those teams play and I'm excited to see how we do against them. I think we will do really well with the competition and we hung with Southern Garrett last year. I think you'll see us really progress this season and get better with the young talent."
DeWees, a two-time Times Player of the Year, led the county in scoring last season, averaging 21.7 points per game and finished with 564 points. No other county public school player totaled more than 300. The junior guard is 36 points shy of reaching 1,000, and she'll become the first Man Valley player to break that barrier.
DeWees is one of four returning players for the Mavs this season. Senior guard Jayce Klingenberg, sophomore Josey Klingenberg and Lindsay Seipp are back, and juniors Hannah Justice and Tayler Warehime, former NC players, will make their debut in the center for the Mavs.
Mavs coach Heather DeWees said Josey Klingenberg and freshman Amelia Saunders will assist on the defensive front. Senior Rayna Deltuva is out with an ACL injury she suffered early in the soccer season.
The loss of Deltuva stings, but Heather DeWees said her influence should help shape the dimension for this year's team.
"I mourn the loss of Rayna," DeWees said. "She was very instrumental in the success we had last year. She is still here and can teach the young players things she sees and has experienced last year and we're hoping to utilize her as an asset to the team to help the transition."
That transition includes multiple facets — and that includes additional physicality.
"They all want to win so I think trying to teach our culture is the first goal," DeWees said. "Once we get on that page, I think we will be a tough competitor in the county. We're not just merging North Carroll kids, we're merging freshmen, a lot of different entities and it's a challenge we're willing to take."