The genius of this Pocatello team comes in waves. The Thunder are extraordinarily young, so the good stuff is usually sandwiched around the bad stuff, arriving in sequences that make you go no no no — yes!

Sometimes an offensive possession will look dead, sputtering out before the team can find a look they like. Except that’s when Taylee Rogers will float a beautiful pass inside to Alexia Tinno for an easy layup. Sometimes the Thunder will come this close to a turnover, letting the ball carom around from player to player, and that’s when Hallie Pearson will recognize she has space for a triple and knock it down.

They don’t do it on purpose — believe her, head coach Sunny Evans would much rather look like the Golden State Warriors — but this is the way the Thunder have already collected more wins than each of their previous two seasons combined, including Friday’s 46-32 victory over Century. It’s far from perfect. Messy at times, more than they would like. But it’s clear something is clicking.

“I think it’s mostly our energy,” sophomore guard Taylor Bunderson said. “In practices, we have so much energy. Our chemistry just keeps on building, and we all have fun being around each other, and that helps in the games.”

About Pocatello’s youth — the Thunder really are young. Their key cogs include freshmen Alivia Marshall, Taylee Rogers and Kennasyn Garza, plus sophomores Bunderson and Miah Lusk. Seniors Hallie Pearson and Alexia Tinno are the elder statesmen, supplying leadership and scoring punches, but that’s the thing — they’re the only seniors on the roster.

That makes their presence even more important. Who else is supposed to show the younger players the way? Who else can calm down the team and find a good look when things get chaotic, like they did Friday night?

“I can’t say enough about Hallie Pearson’s leadership this year,” Pocatello coach Sunny Evans said. “It’s been one of my proudest moments as a coach, one of the coolest things to see, the way she’s led our team.”

The thing about it is Pearson and Tinno may be the team’s only two seniors, but they provide much more than leadership. On Friday night, Pearson notched a team-best 14 points, helping the Thunder pull away and end a three-game skid. Tinno posted four points and helped guard Century forward Taylor Smith, who tallied a game-high 20 points.

She wasn’t the only one charged with doing that, though. Those duties also belonged to — surprise, surprise — a freshman: Kennasyn Garza, a towering rim protector. All night against Century, she used her size to make room underneath, where teammates slipped her quick passes for layups. On defense, she deterred Diamondbacks’ drives, and even when she didn’t block shots, she altered them. Heck, even when she didn’t do that, her mere presence discouraged Century players from making forays into the lane. Did we mention she’s a freshman?

So many of her teammates are, too. Marshall posted five points, Rogers added eight and Garza tallied 10. As the season goes on, that won’t be anything out of the ordinary, but it does underscore just how young this team is. When a Thunder player scores, it’s never a bad idea to wonder if she was a freshman.

Your next thought might be something along the lines of, How does Evans pull this off?

“I hold them accountable,” she said. “They’re ready for that, and they like it. They like the challenge, and they’re willing to take it on. They’re just, first and foremost, really solid people. So they’re OK with me coaching them. They understand that with that, there’s going to be some ups and downs as we learn and become comfortable with it.”

The ups and downs have certainly materialized. With Friday’s win, Pocatello improved to 7-9 overall and 1-1 in 4A District 5 play, tying Century for second in the conference. If that sounds lackluster, it shouldn’t. Last season, the Thunder produced one win. The year before that, they won three games.

So of all years, Pocatello is turning things around in the season when the club starts two freshmen and relies on a roster replete with young players.

To square those two realities, Evans points out players who have graduated, the ones she says “set a foundation.” Those players, she says, paved the way for this team to turn things around, creating habits like showing up when it matters most and coming to off-court events, where the team’s identity starts to come together.

Still, the Thunder have just played better. Players like Bunderson, Marshall, Pearson and Rogers space the floor and open up passing lanes to get the ball underneath to Tinno and Garza, and when things run smoothly, all they have to do is turn and lay it in.

Evans knows things won’t always look like that — Pocatello’s next matchup is against Preston, a home matchup set for Thursday — which is why she wants to see improvements: The Thunder can limit turnovers, run more efficient offense, really emphasize defense. The January iteration of this team, she hopes, won’t look like the one that surfaces in March. That’s the nice part about working with so many freshmen — who knows how much better they can get?

“I think the intangibles are going to be really key as we keep trying to peak at the right time and continue to improve,” Evans said. “Will they stay interested? I don’t worry about that, but it gets to be a grind, so can we keep them motivated? All those kinds of things. I don’t worry about that with this group. They respond so well.”

Greg Woods is a sports reporter at the Idaho State Journal. Follow him on Twitter at GregWWoods.