Girls' basketball

Beard-Fails thrives following transfer to Georgetown Day

By James Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 15, 2010; 12:38 PM

For sophomore forward Zoe Beard-Fails, the road to Georgetown Day began over two years ago. Before she began her stellar freshman season with South Lakes last year, Beard-Fails paid a visit to the District private school as a prospective ninth-grader, looking at it as a potential place to spend all four high school years.

And though she fell in love with it, she opted to give the Reston public school a try. As a highly-regarded freshman, the 6-foot-1 forward led the Seahawks in scoring with 16.4 points per game and helped the team to a 16-7 record. But following the season, her family decided to send her to Georgetown Day, doing so primarily, they said, for its academics. And so far, Beard-Fails has enjoyed it.

"It's good. It's so different," she said following a 57-52 loss to ISL AA opponent Holton-Arms on Tuesday. "I've gone to public school my whole life. The atmosphere is completely different ... Here you are more focused on your academics. It's more about having fun and doing your best. I feel like in that environment, with less pressure, you can thrive or succeed more."

On the basketball court, Beard-Fails also has thrived. Through six games, she is among the region's leading scorers, averaging nearly 28 points a game, including a 42-point output in a 66-55 loss to St. Mary's Ryken on Dec. 11.

In Tuesday's game against Holton-Arms, Beard-Fails again showed that dominating inside presence, pulling down rebounds and often putting back her own short misses. But despite her 31-point, 21-rebound performance, the Mighty Hoppers couldn't slow a Holton-Arms surge that began late in the third quarter with an up-tempo offense and sharper shooting.

"They got tired. And then we pressed them a bit to get them more tired," Holton-Arms Coach Julie Treadwell said. "We have to keep [Beard-Fails's] touches to a minimum. When you can bring her way up on the press and make her touch it up here, that's better than having her touch it at the three-point line down there."

With a short jump shot by sophomore Tiana Walker, Georgetown Day took its largest lead of the game, 40-30, with over a minute left in the third quarter. Holton-Arms then went on a 17-6 run, taking a 47-46 lead midway through the fourth quarter on a short jumper from senior forward Haley Gibert, who scored 10 of her team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter.

"We're a very young team," Georgetown Day Coach Bobby Asher said. "We've got mostly sophomores out there all the time. I felt like when we had a chance to finish the game, maybe our inexperience hurt us while their experience helped them."

Beard-Fails said she first heard about Georgetown Day through teammate Walker, with whom she has played AAU basketball. Beard-Fails admits that the competition in the ISL AA may not be as tough as the Virginia AAA Liberty District, but she was up for the challenge. She will still maintain the balance of school and basketball by playing for high-level AAU teams in the offseason.

"Playing with them and playing here and getting the academics, it works," she said. "Half a year of straight basketball and half a year of straight academics."

Georgetown Day "made an impression on her, the learning environment," Asher said. "And at different times, she said, 'I still like that school.' I'd be the first to say, I don't think she came here because we're a basketball powerhouse. She came here because she legitimately wanted to get great education."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company