In this week’s notebook, we cover T.C. Williams, Clarksburg and Potomac School:
T.C. Williams using depth to dominate: In Northern Virginia, no team has been able to keep T.C. Williams within single digits this season. The Titans pick up full-court on defense and beat teams with balance on offense. Seven players average at least five points.
“Any given night, I could have a different leading scorer,” Coach Kesha Walton said. “We’re pretty deep. It changes every game, who needs more rebounds or more threes or who needs to score less — whatever it takes to win.”
After a 6-0 start, No. 5 T.C. Williams (8-1) found competition at the Boo Williams Classic in Hampton, Va., where it lost to Norview (Norfolk, Va.) by 14 points Dec. 28. Two days later, the Titans scored three points in the second quarter but pulled off a 43-41 win over Paul Robeson (N.Y.).
“We didn’t have our best shooting day. They played a zone and really slowed the game down,” said junior point guard Trinity Palacio, who leads the Titans with 15.7 points per game. “But we showed that we can win a game with our defense.”
Seniors Elise Levenberry and Sasha Bates each average 10 points. Last season, T.C. Williams won 19 straight games before falling short of the state tournament in a six-point loss to Oakton. With Palacio in her third season running the show as the starting point guard, T.C. Williams has the elusive winning combination of experience and depth.
“I’m more calm and less nervous than I was in past years. I can take my time to control the game,” Palacio said. “We have a team where everyone can contribute in a certain way on offense and defense. We have come together really well.”
Trinity Klock is blocking shots, helping Clarksburg win: Clarksburg sophomore Trinity Klock played volleyball in the fall, spiking balls all across the gym and at helpless opponents.
The temperature outside has since cooled, and the volleyball nets have come down. It’s basketball season. Klock is still wreaking havoc with her 6-foot-frame, except now she’s stepping in front of shooters and swatting basketballs. The center is averaging 15.6 points and 4.1 blocks, helping the Cougars to a 9-0 start.
“She sometimes blocks balls into the bleachers,” Coach Sissy Natoli said.
Klock has often been the beneficiary of Clarksburg’s fast-break offense, with the team running the floor and finishing easily at the basket. The Cougars also press as much as they can, looking to force steals and easy layups off inbounds passes.
Natoli is happy with her team’s fast start, but she’s guarding against complacency. Clarksburg is no stranger to starting strong, only to wilt down the stretch. The Coyotes begin what will be a telling stretch this week, when they visit Gaithersburg (5-1) on Tuesday and host No. 12 Richard Montgomery (9-0) on Wednesday.
In years past, Natoli said, the team would unravel late in the season largely because of being over aggressive on the break.
“We’re trying to be smarter with the basketball,” Natoli said.
— Joshua Needelman
Multitasking Caskin leads Potomac School: Three years ago, when Potomac School senior guard Courtlynne Caskin was a freshman, Coach Mike Hutton called her family with some uncertainty. He wanted to know if Caskin, a gifted soccer and lacrosse player, would have time to play for his varsity basketball team.
Fast-forward to this last month, when Caskin broke the school’s all-time scoring record of 1,363 with a 21-point performance against St. Andrews, and it’s safe to say Caskin managed it. A two-time captain, Caskin is averaging 21.3 points for the Panthers (7-3).
“I can’t confirm it, but she’s almost definitely our all-time steals leaders, too,” Hutton said. “She can do everything, but she’s especially good at three-point shooting, free throws and steals.”
Caskin was a first-team All-Met soccer selection this fall, and is heading to Virginia to play lacrosse, her strongest sport.
“She just doesn’t take a day off. Every day, she works hard and does what we need her to do,” Hutton said.
Junior guard Sara Park is having a stellar season alongside Caskin, averaging 18.2 points. Hutton will need both of his guards to continue to play their best to reach the team’s goal: winning the ISL A division.