A minute before tip-off Thursday at Seton, junior guard Lizzie Wilson could have counted 13 spectators in the bleachers, some of them from visiting school Quantico. At Herndon, the school Wilson attended last season, there might have been that many people in the concession stand line at game time.
So Wilson is fully aware that her tour through the Delaney Athletic Conference involves less fanfare and a lower talent level than she faced in the Concorde District, which boasts such teams as No. 17 Chantilly and Oakton.
But even though the crowds are a fraction of the size and her commute from Reston has lengthened, her satisfaction level has soared.
"It's a lot more fun this season," Wilson, clad in a Concorde District tournament T-shirt, said after racking up 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals in a 69-36 win over Quantico. "I like the atmosphere here."
The Conquistadors (15-5, 9-0) are glad to hear that, because they can certainly use her production, with reigning DAC player of the year Elena Jones, a forward, having missed the entire season after tearing up her knee the first day of practice.
Relegated to the two-guard spot at Herndon because of Hornets standout point guard Kyle DeHaven, a William and Mary signee, Wilson has stepped in at the point for Seton and has emerged as the team's second leading scorer, behind junior guard Mary Grimberg, and has at least double the number of assists of any teammate.
"She's taken Mary Spicer's point job, but she's a different sort of player," Seton Coach Dick Pennefather said. "She's not as much looking for the three, but she can penetrate and dish really well, has a lot of confidence in handling the basketball and is real strong. She can take a beating and still keep going."
To keep on going is exactly what Seton has in mind from a team standpoint, perhaps more than ever. The state independent schools tournament has been divided into two classifications, meaning the Conquistadors no longer will have to tangle with larger schools such as O'Connell, Paul VI or Bishop Ireton for a state championship.
In addition, Seton expects to get junior guard-forward Brigit Cooley back from an ankle injury in time for the DAC tournament, which will only enhance the depth of a team that has eight players who have scored eight or more points in a game this season, including five girls with 16 or more.
"There's a lot of talent on this team," Pennefather said. "Not like super-high-level talent, but there's a lot of kids at an equal ability level."