With second-team All Met center Elizabeth Manner heading to Stony Brook, Oakton Coach Fred Priester knew he could no longer throw the ball into the post and simply expect a bucket. And on a team with just two seniors the juniors — including 5-foot-9 guard Karlie Cronin have been asked to play a larger role.
Priester began training Cronin when she was in fifth grade and has watched her develop into a strong mid-range shooter and an unselfish scoring guard.
Through five games Cronin is averaging six assists and eight points per game for No. 18 Oakton (5-0). She exploded for 14 points in Tuesday’s 19-point win at Lake Braddock, one shy of her career-high.
“She’s always going to look to pass first, anybody paying attention is going to see that,” Priester said. “I’m trying to convince her to understand that a leader does what a team needs.”
With lots of elevation on her jump shot, she will be hard pressed to find a player who can block her shot when she pulls up in the 14-18-foot range. She can knock down three-pointers, but she likes pulling up around the painted area. Cronin has also worked hard to improve her off-hand dribbling.
“We were really hard on her about being right-hand dominant,” Priester said. “She finishes well with her left now and her jumper is really better. She gets good elevation and it looks beautiful.”
The junior excels in the classroom with a 3.8 GPA and has received interest from Memphis, Kent State, Bucknell, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Hartford, Drexel and SMU. Davidson will be at tonight’s game against Lee (0-6) to see her play.
Cronin and senior Jazmine Carter are the only two players that were on Oakton’s 2012 Virginia AAA state title team, and this year’s team has seven new varsity players. Those two, along with guard Alex Marquis (10 points per game), have raised their game this season, Carter on the boards and Cronin in scoring.
“My teammates are definitely helping me to make it an easier transition,” Cronin said of her increased scoring role. “But I’m still getting used to it.”
Related: Oakton rolls past Lake Braddock