When Alisha Battle dreams of her future, she envisions playing college basketball and pursuing a degree in a computer-related field. She hopes to land a high-paying job one day so she can make life easier for her three brothers and mother who live in a three-bedroom home in Landover.
The Fairmont Heights senior constantly thinks about the future because she does not like to dwell on the present, or more important, the recent past. She does not want to entirely change her surroundings, just what she has seen occur in the school hallways this year.
"I love this school; I just wish things were different," she said. "I wish I had better memories of my senior year, but I don't. I've seen a lot of bad things happen."
Battle has witnessed one female run past her after stabbing a female classmate, then had to walk past the pooled blood on the floor on her way to first-period psychology class. She has seen a host of fights, and had to be there to console her boyfriend after two kids tried to assault him after school.
"I try not to pay attention to it," Battle said. "I just go to class, and then go play basketball after school. People tell me that I've put myself in a good situation to get to go to college, so I'm hoping it works out."
The 5-foot-7 guard has a 3.13 grade-point average and entered the week as the area's leading scorer, averaging 25.6 points per game to go along with 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 6 steals per game -- all team highs.
"Alisha has had to it all for us all year," Fairmont Heights Coach Bill Hughes said. "She gets absolutely no help. There have been so many times where she'll pass the ball to a teammate underneath the basket, and they'll miss a layup. I see how frustrating it is for her, but she's always remained positive and has tried to make us the best team we can be."
Despite Battle's contributions, the Hornets entered this week 2-10 overall, 1-9 in the Prince George's 3A/2A/1A League. She is the last remaining player who was on the squad that two seasons ago made its first state tournament appearance since 1991.
"I remember the first time I saw her, I didn't think she was a basketball player," said Barbara Tyner, who had coached the school's girls' basketball team for the previous 16 seasons before stepping down in November. "She wasn't very tall, and she wasn't very big. But when she got the ball in her hands, you could tell she was a natural player, and she was going to be special."
Battle has saved her best season for her last. She has accounted for 333 of her team's 664 points (50.2 percent) entering the week after scoring 30 of her team's 46 points in a 31-point loss Friday against Forestville. Battle was constantly double- and triple-teamed by the Knights, which has been the case all season.
"Alisha's better than good," Forestville Coach Vincent McDuffie said. "She can score. She was the one person on their team we knew we really needed to stop, and she still had 30."
Added Douglass Coach Ed Cowan: "I think she would score a lot of points for any team she played for. She's a great scorer regardless of the team she plays on. She's one of the best players in our league."
But Battle is more concerned with the scoreboard, not the scorebook. She keeps telling herself every game will be different. Although Fairmont Heights has shown improvement this year, another state tournament appearance seems unlikely.
Even though Battle may not like that possibility, she said she will accept it if her stellar season translates to a college scholarship, though she has yet to receive an offer.
"I want to use basketball. I don't want the game to use me," Battle said. "I want to use basketball as a way to get to go to college. I want to show people that if you work hard, you can go to college."