TAKE SIX

Statistics of Six Returning

Junior Starters

LOUDOUN COUNTY

Name Pos. Ht. '98 PPG

Stacy JamesG5-57.6

Averaged team-high 6.3 steals per game.

Tara KidwellG5-48.8

Tripled her scoring output from her freshman year.

LOUDOUN VALLEY

Name Pos. Ht. '98 PPG

Holly EverhartF5-117.5

Led team in scoring in eight games in 1998.

Valerie MurphyF5-118.9

Averaged almost as many rebounds (8.6) as points.

LIBERTY

Name Pos. Ht. '98 PPG

Jenny GrayG5-77.4

Tireless defensive player who has improved offensively.

POTOMAC FALLS

Name Pos. Ht. '98 PPG

Lis BosmaG5-117.6

Has the ballhandling skills of a guard but a forward's height.

Lis Bosma is finally feeling comfortable with her role on the Potomac Falls High School girls basketball team. Last season, she was the new girl in school -- she had moved to the area from Massachusetts -- and the new point guard on the court. She needed several games to settle in with the team.

This year, Bosma has a new position -- she'll be playing on the wing -- and a more assertive attitude. She is familiar with her teammates and her coach's system.

"I feel much more comfortable this year," Bosma said. "In a way, things have been easier, but at the same time I feel like I have to step up and be a leader."

Loudoun Valley's Holly Everhart and Valerie Murphy, Loudoun County's Stacy James and Tara Kidwell, and Liberty's Jenny Gray know how Bosma feels. Like Bosma, each earned starting positions on their respective teams last season as sophomores. Each will have to take on larger roles this year as juniors.

"It's a big step, because all of a sudden kids start thinking about college, and there's more pressure to perform," Loudoun Valley Coach Carmel Keilty said. "When you're a junior, there's so much more responsibility for you as a person to grow up. Academically, it's a tough year, you've got the SATs -- a lot of things come together during your junior year."

Coaches expect more from their upperclassmen -- more production, more maturity, more leadership. Younger players look to their older teammates for guidance.

"Every year older, you get more pressure placed on you," Loudoun County Coach Bob Pingley said. "When you're a sophomore, you can play a little more relaxed. If you make a mistake, the feeling is that you're still young, and that's okay because you're a freshman or a sophomore. Now that you're a junior, people expect more out of you, and you have to learn how to handle that."

Lis Bosma, Potomac Falls

Bosma made an immediate impact on the Panthers last season. She averaged 10.8 points in her first four games, leading Potomac Falls to the first victories in school history. The 5-foot-11 guard finished the season as the Panthers' leading scorer (7.6 points per game).

"Lis is much more mature this year, and you can see the leadership role developing in her," Potomac Falls Coach Michelle Rearick said. "She's more comfortable this year because she realizes that what she is is something that the kids really like. She can sense that, and she's feeling comfortable with herself."

Bosma worked during the summer on her rebounding and outside shot. When she played, she focused on being more aggressive.

"I've put more pressure on myself because this is my junior year," Bosma said. "I do want to play basketball in college, and this is the main year to step it up."

Holly Everhart and Valerie Murphy,

Loudoun Valley

For the first time, Everhart and Murphy aren't the youngest players on their team, and they are learning what kind of responsibility goes with being a veteran player.

"When something goes wrong, it goes on us," Everhart said. Keilty "expects more out of us."

"We set our standards last year, and now we have to equal them," Murphy said.

Everhart and Murphy, both 5-11 forwards, played on the freshman basketball team before moving up to varsity as sophomores.

Murphy led the team in scoring (8.9 points) and rebounding (8.6 rebounds) last year, and was named second team all-district. Everhart, who earned a starting position midway through the season, averaged 7.5 points and led the team in scoring in eight games.

Jenny Gray, Liberty

This is Gray's third year on the Liberty varsity, yet it's the first year she's truly comfortable on the team. She began her freshman year on the junior varsity but was pulled up to the varsity nine games into the season. Gray scored six points in her first varsity game, and her work ethic and defensive intensity made her an indispensable player by the end of the year.

Still, "I felt like I had to prove myself," Gray said. "I didn't want people to think that I wasn't any good because I didn't start the year on the varsity. I had to show them that I was good enough."

Last year, Gray started and averaged 7.4 points, fourth-best on the team. She was one of the Eagles' most consistent players, yet she deferred to her older teammates. This season, Gray knows that she can no longer do that.

"Last year, I played point guard a lot, but I was usually on the floor with [then-senior] Ashley Storm," Gray said. "I had to study what Ashley did, and Coach [Ellen Chapman] called the plays. This year, me and Danielle [Tapscott, a senior guard] will call the plays. I'll have to recognize the defense and call the plays."

Stacy James and Tara Kidwell, Loudoun County

James and Kidwell already are veterans; this is the third year they will be starting together in the Raiders' backcourt. They've improved each year: Kidwell became more of a scorer as a sophomore (she raised her average from 2.9 points as a freshman to 8.8 points), while James became one of the district's best defensive players (team-high 6.3 steals per game).

They've also grown, literally: Kidwell is three inches taller than she was as a freshman (she is now 5-4), while James has grown an inch (she is now 5-5). Both are stronger, thanks to two offseasons of lifting.

"Both have matured physically, and each year they've shown more basketball savvy," Pingley said. "A lot of times, they lead through doing -- when it's time to play or practice our presses, they work hard. They need to be more verbal."

James and Kidwell recognize that and are trying to become more vocal.

"We're trying to be leaders," James said. "We want to do whatever is best for the team and get everyone working together as a team."

"On the court, if we see that someone is not hustling, we'll tell them to hustle," Kidwell added. "Or we'll compliment them if they do something good. We'll get the team pumped up in the locker room."