Girls’ basketball: Episcopal’s Rennie Harrison raises her game

Episcopal center Rennie Harrison stepped out of her comfort zone last summer when she accepted an invitation to play for Team Takeover, one of the area’s strongest AAU teams. The team boasted top Division I recruits in Bullis center Lynee’ Belton (Duke) and Paul VI guard Ariana Freeman (Louisville), and for the time in her high school career, Harrison was forced to come off the bench and be a facilitator. The focal point of her contribution was scrapping for rebounds, making the extra pass and hustling for every loose ball.

“That was a really interesting experience for me, going from Episcopal where I was relied on most of the time all the time, and then going to Takeover where these girls were better than me,” Harrison said. “I sort of realized that I can’t take anything for granted. I just have to work, work, work. I have to do all that I can do.”

That experience has been key for the 6-foot-3 Harrison during her senior year. She is again one of the area’s most prolific scorers (16.1), but her game has filled out as the Maroon has won seven straight and are the favorites heading into the Independent School league Division A playoffs later this month.

Episcopal (15-3, 9-0) has rarely been tested this season, winning 10 of its 15 games by double digits. But it was pushed Friday night against Flint Hill, holding off a late Husky rally to win, 42-39, behind 16 points from Ivy Houde and 13 points from Harrison. It was the 13th game in double-digit scoring for the junior Houde (12.1 ppg), who along with 6-foot junior forward Caroline Haley (7.9) and 5-foot-9 junior guard Izzy Farrell (6.1) form a solid nucleus of players who will make Episcopal dangerous again next season.

Harrison, who averaged 13.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game as a junior, has been particularly strong the last 10 days. She posted 16 points and 10 points in a win over Madeira on Jan. 30, then followed with 38 points combined in wins over St. Andrew’s and Flint Hill last week.

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from the week of basketball in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

“I give a lot of credit to my teammates,” Harrison said. “They’re the ones looking inside for me and creating all the options for me.”

Playing against such strong players over the summer gave Harrison perspective on what’s to come when she arrives at Richmond next year. It has also made her one of the more complete post players in the area this winter; she is regarded as one of the best front-court defenders in the ISL-A, and her rebounding production hasn’t waned from last season (she has posted three double-doubles this year). Harrison is also polished in the mid-range department on the offensive end, and she continues to get to the line consistently, where she’s hit 16 of 20 free throws the last three games.

“This group of girls isn’t going to come around every year,” Harrison said of her team. “We set the tone right away [to start the season] that we were going to be a team that worked really hard and did the little things.”

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.
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