Fairmont Heights Coach Barbara Tyner has found one way to maintain the focus among her undefeated girls basketball team: boys. The Hornets (9-0, 2-0 in Prince George's 2A/1A league play) practiced twice with the boys junior varsity team last week--then went out and defeated Central and Surrattsville.
"We do not have the height to give each other an intense practice," Tyner said. "We get that competition playing with the boys. It helps us keep our eyes on the prize: winning the state championship."
The competition has helped elevate the play of senior Nancy Taylor, a 5-foot-11 forward who is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Junior guard Martina Wheeler averages 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The practices also have been beneficial to the team's younger players, including sophomore point guard Mia Glover, who averages eight points and two assists.
"I got the idea from [University of Tennessee Coach] Pat Summitt," Tyner said. "In [Summitt's] book, she talks about the importance of intensity. I thought this would be a good way of creating it for my team."
Thomas Stone's 61-49 victory over LaPlata on Friday night marked only the third time this season that the Cougars (11-0, 5-0 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference) have won a game by more than 10 points. The other double-digit victories came against SMAC rival Chopticon and nonconference opponent Potomac (Md.).
The Cougars could be in for another tight contest against SMAC co-leader Northern (8-2, 5-0) on Wednesday. Thomas Stone Coach Bob Pitts is hoping his team can increase its defensive pressure in the first half so it will not have to rely so heavily on its offensive power late in games. Jule Clark, a 5-11 senior, leads the team in scoring (20 points per game). She is getting help from guards Lynn Malone (10 ppg) and Ashley Blandford (10 ppg) and center Tyanne Washington (7 ppg).
Covenant Life is off to its best start in five seasons with a 10-0 overall record and 9-0 mark in the PVAC AA division. Coach Wayne Cates credits the team's winning streak to its offense--an inside-outside game that is producing better shot opportunities. The Gaithersburg school's leading scorer, 5-5 senior Laurie Marshall, reached the 1,000 career-point milestone on Wednesday when she scored 27 points in a 65-20 victory over Hebrew Academy. Senior forwards Kelly Simpson and Shannon Cates have increased their offensive output this year to a combined average of 12 points per game.
Covenant Life also is doing a better job rebounding. The team averages 15 offensive rebounds per game, mostly from senior Sarah Simpson (8 offensive rpg). Her younger sister, junior Terri Marshall, averages 15 rebounds.
"They are a team playing under more control," Cates said. "I think the [league] championship is theirs to lose. They want a banner for the wall before they leave. That is what is driving them."