H.D. Woodson shooting guard Valerie Wages is a sophomore so when Coach Bob Headen calls her the best scorer the program has ever had, it is quite a compliment.

Headen's assessment is even more meaningful coming from a coach whose teams have dominated the Interhigh League the past 12 years, compiling a 243-18 record and producing 10 All-Met players.

"Valerie has surpassed all of the other players who have played for me as far as scoring is concerned," said Headen, the team's coach those 12 years. "She has excellent range, and since the three-point goal is now in effect, she's even tougher to stop."

The 5-foot-7 Wages is averaging 21 points and three three-pointers per game. She is primarily responsible for the Warriors' 9-1 start this season, and she doesn't back down from the pressure of being the team's best player.

"I don't mind taking the shots if I think it will help the team win," Wages said. "And if I get the ball at the end of the game with the game on the line, I'll take the shot because I'm confident I'll make it."

The Warriors were expected to fall off their lofty perch this season because they have only one senior. However, Wages and her teammates have once again raced to the top of the Interhigh standings by utilizing Wages' outside shots to overcome their lack of experience.

"We're not an experienced team, but Valerie is so good that I'll give her the green light to shoot whenever she wants because she will take good shots," said Headen.

But it hasn't been all roses for Wages this season. During the Warriors' game against Anacostia two weeks ago, Wages twisted her ankle. She returned the for next game and has continued playing, although the injury still bothers her.

Wages' long range shooting ability has opened up the middle for the Warriors' front line. "When you have a player like Valarie, she's so dangerous that defenses will try and stop her from shooting, even if she's 25 feet away from the basket," said Headen. "That means the rest of the players are going to score and that means all of the other girls are going to be happy."