Calvert’s Daijha Thomas improves scoring in the post


Calvert junior Daijha Thomas (33) has already contributed to a pair of Maryland 2A title-winning teams, heading into this week’s state tournament. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

In his first season at Calvert, Coach Tim Contee saw junior Daijha Thomas get frustrated at times in games when she wasn’t as involved in the offense. For two quarters, Friday’s Maryland 2A South final against Gwynn Park seemed to be one of those contests as the 6-foot-2 center rarely received touches around the basket in a back-and-forth game.

In the locker room during the intermission, Contee stressed the need to look for Thomas in the post, and the adjustment helped the two-time defending state champ Cavaliers clinch a return trip to the state tournament with an 86-62 victory. The Yellow Jackets didn’t use any players taller than 5-foot-9, and Thomas took advantage, finishing with 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Contee “said [to look inside], but we also knew,” said Thomas, who scored 15 points in the third quarter alone. “He really didn’t even have to say anything.”

Thomas, now in her third varsity season, played an important role as a defender and rebounder on both of Calvert’s previous title-winning teams, but she’s stepped it up on the offensive end this season, heading into Friday’s state semifinal at UMBC against Patterson Mill out of Harford County.

Thomas went from averaging 6.5 points per game as a freshman to 9.4 points last year. The center bumped all the way up to 16.4 points this season, scoring at least 20 points on eight occasions. She had a 30-point, 20-rebound in a victory over La Plata on Jan. 16.

Last year, Thomas was fifth on the team in scoring and has moved up to second behind only senior Alexis Smith, a Drexel recruit who this season became Calvert County’s all-time leading scorer.

Contee said that increased production is by design.

“It’s a high-percentage shot when somebody that tall can catch it and just lay the ball in,” Contee said. “It makes the game a whole lot easier for us.”

Against Gwynn Park, Thomas also showcased her passing skills, finding open teammates when she drew multiple defenders.

Thomas hopes to play at the next level, and thanks to those developing offensive skills, she should have the opportunity. Contee said he’s heard from several Division I schools with George Washington and Loyola (Md.) showing the most interest so far.

Thomas said she plans to begin making college visits over the summer and believes she will have some firm offers by then.

“I’m always willing to learn and to get better,” Thomas said. “I think [recruiters] will see I’m always going to give it my all and more.”

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Brandon Parker · March 6, 2013