Jehiah Cook's pout has morphed into a gentle smile sometimes a wide grin while weaving her way through traffic as she dribbles the basketball.
Briana Womack's former expression of anxiety is now one of achievement and confidence. Her glow sometimes appears after she drops in another jumper.
Two players who rode the Sacramento High School girls basketball bench last season to the point of frustration are now riding shotgun on the Dragons express.
Cook and Womack charge into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs tonight determined to keep their foes feeling out of sorts. And the seniors are prime examples of how patience is part of the game, that their coach's message rang true: "Your time will come."
"Here are two girls who hardly played, who had to wait their turn, who were so anxious, but it's paid off," said coach Michele Massari, whose top-seeded Dragons (21-6) will host Casa Roble (8-17) at 7 p.m.
"Womack trusted me, but Cook fought me. Both of them were so eager to play, and they're playing great."
Cook and Womack are key contributors for the Dragons, who have been top-ranked by The Bee all season and are favored to repeat their Division III championship.
Sideline cheerleaders last season, Cook and Womack now mesh with fellow rotation regulars Jasmine Ware, Ayanna Edwards, Chaya Durr, Zonyia Cormier and Casey Williams.
At 5-foot-5, Cook is a blur at point guard, perhaps the section's fastest. Her low-to-the-ground dribbling skills befuddle foes. She averages 10.3 points, 4.6 assists and two steals a game.
Womack is a 5-6 forward who runs the floor and shoots from half court and in. She averages 10.6 points, and has a team-high 49 three-pointers.
"My mom (Shalon) always told me to be patient, to be humble, and that my moment will come and it did," said Cook, whose fast rise earned her a scholarship to UNLV. "Coach was right, too."
Womack also wants to play at the next level, and is receiving interest. She practices and plays with purpose, wanting to hold onto her valuable minutes.
"Waiting my turn paid off," Womack said. "I'm so ready to play. I know I can still get a lot better, too ballhandling, shooting, defense. You can always get better."
Cook has been a dribbling marvel for as long as she can remember. As a 5-year-old, she would drive her mother crazy, constantly dribbling in the house, then marking the walls by firing outlet passes against them.
Womack's father, Jay, reminds her daily she's good but can improve. She is a shooter but also plays defense well unafraid to draw a charge. That seems fitting. She was Sac High's goalkeeper in soccer.
"It's anticipating, doing whatever you can to help the team," Womack said.
THE BEE'S FINAL REGULAR-SEASON TOP 20
PR previous ranking; records through Sunday
Team W-L PR
1. Sacramento 21-6 1
2. Pleasant Grove 19-8 2
3. El Camino 23-4 4
4. Sheldon 20-7 5
5. River City 25-2 3
6. Oak Ridge 20-7 6
7. St. Francis 15-12 7
8. Florin 22-5 8
9. Kennedy 19-8 9
10. Christian Brothers 21-6 10
11. Del Oro 17-10 12
12. Inderkum 20-5 13
13. MontereyTrail 22-5 14
14. El Dorado 18-7 18
15. Rocklin 16-11 15
16. West Campus 20-5 16
17. Antelope 18-7 19
18. Nevada Union 14-12 11
19. Bear River 18-8 -
20. San Juan 21-6 20