If No. 3 Paul VI Catholic was the primary Washington Catholic Athletic Conference buzz team headed into the season, St. Mary’s Ryken was not far behind, given the Knights’ winning WCAC record a year ago and encouraging victories in summer and fall leagues.
From the 2000-01 season to present, St. Mary’s Ryken is 0-19 against Holy Cross, 3-19 against Paul VI (including a four-point loss in the WCAC quarterfinals last year) and 0-19 against Good Counsel.
“I think we’re ready,” said second-year Coach Kris Sandberg, who was not sure if sharing this history with her players would have an inspiring or an intimidating effect. “I thought we had a good week [last week] getting ready for this week. We have a very good shot with everybody.”
The Knights played No. 1 St. John’s to a 10-point loss last month and won one of three games at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona. They are deeper than they were a year ago, when they went 10-8 in league play. Five players average between eight and 13 points, led by senior guard Marissa Somerville and sophomore guard Briana Hardee, a Good Counsel transfer who has missed the last two games with an illness.
Six-foot-3 senior Cydney Smith has been drawing double teams, freshman guard Deja Ford has coolly handled tough defensive assignments and senior Brittani Burgess, a Delaware signee, leads the team in assists and steals.
“I’ve been very, very happy with the way our seniors are leading and that’s something I wasn’t sure of early on,” Sandberg said. “They’ve allowed our younger players to learn and grow without having to force it on them.”