One year ago, Victoria Swift was still feeling her way around the Lyons girls basketball team.
She was a freshman on varsity just trying to fit in and live up to high expectations.
A lot has changed in the last year as Swift has improved her game and changed her role.
“I think that the biggest difference is my confidence level,” said the 5-foot-7 guard. “I was a freshman and the youngest player on the team, having to learn the new plays. I have a lot more knowledge about the program and what we’re looking to accomplish. It’s helped my game progress more offensively and defensively. And I’m more of a leader, being able to be vocal and make sure we’re always enthusiastic.”
Lions head coach Katie Meyers has seen a big jump in Swift’s abilities and it shows in the stat book. Last year Swift averaged 6.1 points per game while shooting 29.4 percent from the floor. This year she leads the team with 11.2 ppg while shooting 39.1 percent.
“Victoria is a constantly improving player,” Meyers said. “She has always been a great shooter, but this year her shot is quicker and she shoots with more confidence. She has developed an attacking game this year as well. With improving her ball handling under pressure, she has been able to score more points inside, even against larger athletes.”
What most impresses Meyers is Swift’s work ethic.
“Everything from conditioning to skill work, Victoria is one of the hardest working athletes in practice,” Meyers said. “For example, when we have an especially difficult practice that would exhaust even the most fit athlete, Victoria is always standing tall, showing complete toughness and confidence. She rarely shows any emotional weakness when she is on the floor.”
Swift came into the program with a great 3-point shot. Looking to diversify her game, she spent time in the offseason working on getting to the basket. She has a great role model.
Senior guard Ashanti Davis may be the most athletic player on the Lions and her bread and butter is driving to the hoop.
“Some of Ashanti’s moves are really good,” Swift said. “We work together a lot in practice, whether it’s in partner drills or if we’re playing against each other. Even just watching her and seeing the moves she makes, I really admire some of the moves she’s had. I feel like I’m a lot more confident in being able to go to the basket.”
Lyons (13-8, 5-5 West Suburban Silver) fell to York 41-35 on Saturday. Swift is excited about the team’s playoff potential, but she knows the road will not be easy.
The Lions are the No. 6 seed in the Trinity sectional and must come out of the St. Ignatius regional, where a very talented Fenwick squad is favored. The Lions open regional play on Feb. 12 against either 13th-seeded St. Ignatius or 23rd-seeded South Shore.
“We look at our regionals and sectionals and we’re in one of the hardest,” Swift said. “But we want to come out and have other teams take us seriously. I personally think we can compete with these teams as long as we come with our ‘A’ game. I have high hopes for us going into regionals.”~.