GIRLS

You Should See . . .

Melissa Gathers, Douglass

Gathers, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, has helped lead a young Douglass team to an 8-3 start. Last week, she scored 19 points in a 52-51 loss to the Newport School and 19 points in a 57-51 win over Crossland. "She's becoming more and more consistent for us," Douglass Coach Ed Cowan said. "We usually get between 15 and 20 points per game from her. Last year, she averaged around 10 points, but she was getting 20 points one night and then five or six the next night."

Midway through last season, Cowan decided to give the team's freshmen a chance to start, and the young players responded with a 10-game winning streak. That experience has helped the Eagles this season; Gathers and fellow sophomores Tierra Jackson and T'Neisha Turner start and are the team's top scorers.

Those three will lead the Eagles through a tough week, with games against Central on Friday and at undefeated Fairmont Heights on Tuesday.

You Should Have Seen . . .

Tamara Barnes, Largo

Barnes, a 5-7 senior guard, is the steady outside presence who helps take the pressure off of 6-5 All-Met center Candace Sutton. Largo (11-1) has won its past three games by an average margin of 27.7 points, and in those three wins, Barnes scored a total of 51 points and made seven three-pointers.

On Tap: Girls Games

Northwestern at Suitland

Friday, 7:15 p.m.

Northwestern (4-5) had won three straight heading into last night's game against Eleanor Roosevelt. But Friday's game marks the beginning of a tough three-game stretch in which the Wildcats have to face the county's top three teams--No. 9 Suitland, Oxon Hill and No. 5 Largo. Those teams have a combined 27-5 record this season. Northwestern's Pinky Sheffield averaged 20.7 points during the team's three-game winning streak; KiKi Wimbush leads Suitland (8-2) in scoring at 19.4 ppg.

Crossland at DuVal

Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.

Crossland Coach Trena Mainor has been waiting for this game, not just because she is anxious to see how her team matches up with the defending 3A state champion, but because this game should mark the return of a full Cavaliers team. Crossland has battled through injuries, sickness and eligibility issues to post a 7-4 record heading into last night's game at Gwynn Park.

Junior Tasheeka Hawkins, a starting guard, missed three weeks because of arthroscopic knee surgery and senior center Orlandrea Moore (17 points, 16 rebounds and 9 blocked shots in a 57-51 loss to Douglass Friday) sat out an overtime loss to Fairmont Heights because of the flu. Two more starters from last season's team have not played this year because of academic reasons, but should return for the DuVal game.

DuVal, meanwhile, took a five-game win streak into last night's game at Potomac.

BOYS

You Should See . . .

Jocara Knight, Laurel

Laurel hosts No. 4 Oxon Hill on Friday, and the 6-foot-1 Knight should be a key player. Knight, a senior guard, averaged 21.5 points in two victories last week, over Northwestern and then-No. 11 Parkdale.

Before the season, the senior-dominated Spartans had hoped to be among the contenders for the county title. But Laurel lost to Suitland--which had lost 22 straight before that game--in the third game of the season. Laurel Coach Dwayne Jones said he hoped Friday's victory over Parkdale would put the Spartans (6-4) back on track.

Knight, who scored a team-high 22 points against Parkdale, "struggled early in the season," Jones said. "But we need JoJo to score. He takes some bad shots, but he plays to his other capabilities--he had six rebounds and he passed well against Parkdale--[and] we can live with a few bad shots."

You Should Have Seen . . .

Charles Ford, Gwynn Park

The 6-4 senior guard scored 34 points in the Yellow Jackets' 84-77 victory over Surrattsville on Jan. 11, edging Hornets guard Terrell Millington by two points for game-high scoring honors. Ford made five three-pointers in that game. On Friday, he scored 10 points to help lead Gwynn Park to its eighth straight victory, 77-69 over Forestville. Over the Yellow Jackets' last four games (not including last night's game against Crossland), Ford was averaging 22 points.

On Tap: Boys Games

DeMatha Invitational at MCI Center

Thursday

Two of the county's top teams--No. 1 DeMatha and No. 4 Oxon Hill--are featured in the day-long invitational at MCI Center. Oxon Hill faces No. 19 Gonzaga, the defending WCAC champion, at 6:30 p.m. After losing to Parkdale on Jan. 4, the Clippers won their next two games--against High Point and Bowie--by a combined 76 points.

DeMatha plays Holy Name Central Catholic (Worcester, Mass.) at 7:45 p.m. in a game that could feature an intriguing matchup of big--really big--men. Holy Name has Neil Fingleton, a 7-foot-6 center who has signed with North Carolina, while DeMatha has Matt Slanika, a reserve 7-4 center who has signed with Maryland.

Eleanor Roosevelt at Parkdale

Friday, 7:15 p.m.

The county 4A race is wide open, with three teams--No. 4 Oxon Hill, No. 11 Eleanor Roosevelt and No. 18 Parkdale--tied atop the standings with one loss apiece (before last night's games). This is the first meeting of the season between Roosevelt and Parkdale, and it features some of the county's most athletic and electrifying scorers. The Raiders, who won seven straight following a 2-3 start, have senior Delonte Holland (21 points per game), and juniors Delonte West (15.8 ppg) and Edward Basden (16.3 ppg).

Parkdale is led by Ricky Shields (22.2 ppg) and Shaun Swan (23.5 ppg).

Friendly at Gwynn Park

Friday, 7:15 p.m.

This game is the first of a difficult four-game stretch for Friendly--road games at Surrattsville, DuVal and No. 14 Central follow. Junior forward Cortez Davis leads the Patriots in scoring at 17 points per game. The Yellow Jackets will counter with 6-9 senior Sharrod Ford, one of the area's best shot blockers.