As detailed in Thursday’s paper, Friendly girls’ basketball Coach Carroll Holmes has a long history of putting players into college, mostly during his time leading the boys at Carroll. The list included Lawrence Moten (Syracuse), Charles Harrison (Georgetown/Wake Forest), Derrick and Cedric Lewis (Maryland) and Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje (Georgetown), among others.

Holmes spent more than two decades coaching in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, and he’s just three years into his stint with the Patriots, but he’s slowly building his list of girls’ players at the next level.

Point guard Precious Winley made the jump off last year’s Maryland 3A South runner-up team to Grambling State in the SWAC where she’s played 11 games this season. Forward Nakita Gray, last year’s second-leading scorer, moved on to North Carolina A&T to become a member of the track and field team.

The next group of college-bound Patriots already features forwards Chayla Lewis (Central Connecticut State) and Janay Carter (Delaware State). Both players made it official during the early signing period in November. Another senior, guard Breanna Brown, continues to weigh her college options but expects to continue her career.

That trio holds special significance to Holmes because they are the only players who have been on the varsity squad since he arrived at the Fort Washington school. All three said after a practice earlier this week that they thought about quitting early on but have grown to appreciate their coach’s demanding style, which emphasizes defensive pressure and rebounding.

In fact, they understand why many of those boys’ players were so prepared to contribute in college.

“I feel like if you can take criticism from Coach Holmes, you can take it from anybody,” said Lewis, who leads the team at 16.5 points per game. “You can’t get caught up in the way that you hear it. You have to listen to the message.”

It’s been that way for some time with Holmes, who acknowledges he’s mellowed out over the years. William Liggins took over point guard duties for Carroll in 1984, and early on, Holmes told him that anything that went wrong on the court would be considered his fault. He later played at Frostburg State and now assists at Cesar Chavez, passing on Holmes’ lessons in his own way.

“He’s a coach that you can’t stand sometimes, but you appreciate him,” Brown said. “You have to think about it for a little bit, but you love him.”

The Patriots (20-4) will make their first state tournament appearance since 1997 on Thursday at UMBC with a 9 p.m. tipoff against Maryland 3A East champ River Hill. Soon enough, school officials will hang a new red banner in the gym to commemorate the region title with the possibility of adding another for their first state crown in the sport.

“I told those seniors, ‘Your legacy will be the banner that you hang,’” said Holmes, who led Carroll to WCAC titles in 1989 and 1993. “I’m happy they were able to do that.”

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