Hannah Nihill got knocked down by a pick.

Rather than lament the defensive miscue and return to her feet slowly, the sophomore guard for the Cardinal O'Hara girls' basketball team sprang into action.

An opponent's shot bounced off the rim and Nihill recovered it. She proceeded to fly down the right side of the court, blowing by defenders with her speed and deft ballhandling ability. A crossover was followed by a move behind her back, and, next thing you know, Nihill found her teammate down low for a basket.

The sequence was typical of how the Lions are going to play basketball this year.

They are aggressive on both ends of the floor; the first to get to loose balls; unafraid of sacrificing their bodies; and, most of all, scrappy.

Sounds like a veteran squad, right? Like a team determined to go out on top? Wrong.

O'Hara (1-0) is young, with only one senior, Maeve Heneghan, and one junior, Gabrielle Napoleon, on the roster. The rest of the lineup, including a starting five with two freshmen, features an array of young guns, 10 freshmen and sophomores total, to be exact.

Leading the pack of underclassmen are Nihill and fellow sophomore Mary Sheehan, two who saw significant time in some really big contests for the Lions last year.

"It's kind of like the joke of the team, we feel like we are seniors experience-wise," Sheehan said. "It is neat. Getting all of this experience as sophomores, imagine what it will be like when we are seniors."

"You learn to be a leader and just to stay calm out there and do what you have to do to score, to get the ball back for one more possession," Nihill said of last year's experience.

At Archbishop Carroll for the opening game of the season against Pope John Paul II, the Lions took turns diving all over the floor. One minute Nihill forced a turnover. Another, Sheehan jumped over opposing players to earn the jump ball. But that wasn't it. Everywhere you looked a member of the O'Hara team was doing her part to upset the rhythm of the opponent. The energy was relentless.

While the tendency to talk about young teams is usually in terms of future success, that isn't the case here.

"We realize that we have the talent now," Sheehan said.

"I think we have an opportunity now," Sheehan added. "Why not now?"