In this week’s notebook, we cover CMIT-North, CMIT-South, Edison, Banneker and Howard.
Two CMIT schools represent different points in the building process: While they might cause some confusion in the standings, CMIT-North and CMIT-South are pretty distinguishable on the basketball court. The two public charter schools, different locations of the Chesapeake Math and IT Academy, represent two different aspects of the high school basketball team building process.
CMIT-North, located in Laurel, Maryland, is the older of the two schools and has an experienced and talented program. Coach Abdi Mohamed’s team is 12-4 with wins over Crossland and Theodore Roosevelt. In charter school league play, CMIT North has produced some of the most eye-popping final scores of the year, including a 97-6 win over Langley Park and an 82-2 victory against International-Largo.
“I tell them to just play,” Mohamed said. “We don’t want to run it up, but we want to get something out of it and we want to respect the game.”
They’re led by one of the most intriguing and exciting players in the area: freshman Afia Owusu-Mensah. Owusu-Mensah came up in the CMIT-North middle school and had opportunities to go to a bigger program for high school. But she chose to stay at CMIT and play for Mohamed, who also coached her in middle school. She has become one of the leading scorers in the D.C. area, averaging 27.2 points per game. Last week she poured in 50 points in that 91-point rout of Langley Park.
“She attacks the rim, she can pass, she does a little of everything,” Mohamed said. “She could probably score 60 or 70 in some games but she likes to distribute the ball.”
CMIT-South, in Upper Marlboro, Md., opened five years ago and has a varsity girls’ basketball team for the first time this year. With a seven-girl roster made up entirely of freshmen and sophomores, the team has had a predictably trying inaugural season.
A few of the team’s players had limited basketball experience before this year, and the team doesn’t have consistent access to a gym because CMIT-South’s high school shares one with the middle school program.
“It’s a lot of small things we’ve had to deal with, things they didn’t think about when they were setting up the school because athletics were not a priority,” assistant coach William Spencer said.
This week, CMIT-North and CMIT-South will face off for the second time this year. The first contest, in December, was a 73-5 win for CMIT-North. It was a drastic example of a fledgling program meeting one much further down the road, but still provided a chance for learning.
“Right now, we set small goals looking for everyone to get better,” Spencer said. “We can look at them as a model.”
Edison is rolling ahead of Tuesday’s clash with No. 9 T.C. Williams: In games, substitutions fuel Edison‘s full-court press. In practice, that depth incites competition that prepares the Eagles for the postseason.
“We pretty much run a full-court press and man-to-man defense the whole game. If we’re going to press like that, we need to have the bench help us out and sustain pressure,” Coach Dianne Lewis said. “The benefit of having the depth is that we can go 5-on-5 in practice and still be competitive and challenge each other.”
The Eagles, who compete in Class 5, have won nine straight games against other Northern Virginia public schools by double digits. On Tuesday, Edison (15-3) hosts No. 9 T.C. Williams from Class 6 in a meeting of two of the locals with the most serious aspirations for a girls’ basketball state title in Virginia this winter. In each of the past two seasons, the Eagles lost to Richmond-area school Highland Springs in a state semifinal.
“This is going to be such a great test for us to see where we stand. If we’re fortunate to make it past regionals, the teams from Richmond and Virginia Beach are very similar to T.C. Williams — they’re long and athletic and play great defense and they take care of the basketball,” Lewis said. “This will give us a great indication on either where we stand or the things we need to work on.”
Junior Carole Miller leads Edison with 15.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game. In a 63-31 win over Marshall on Jan. 19, Edison’s bench players scored 29 points while Miller scored 12 with 16 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
“We knew she could give us points,” Lewis said. “Now she’s giving us so much more and making us a much better team.”
Banneker is playing with poise in its first-ever varsity season: As they prepared for the school’s inaugural varsity basketball season, the Banneker girls had what they considered to be a reasonable conversation about goals.
“They really wanted to be respected in our conference and not just seen as the smart kids,” Coach Abby Sondak said, referring to the magnet school’s reputation for consistently strong academics. “They didn’t want to be the pushover team that you were guaranteed to win against.”
Riding a three-game winning streak with victories over Theodore Roosevelt, Cardozo and Wilson, the Bulldogs (7-2) have already outshot that goal this season. They beat the Rough Riders, 58-56, and the Tigers, 51-50, with both games going down to the wire. On offense, they’ve discovered a closer in sophomore Alyson Jefferson.
“At the end of the game, we know that she wants the ball and she’s going to make something happen,” Sondak said of Jefferson, who has topped 20 points in each of the past two games.
In addition to scoring 15 points per game, junior Camryn Wilson anchors the defense with a knack for protecting the rim.
“She is a remarkable shot blocker,” Sondak said. “She’s probably 5-8, 5-9 on a good day, but her timing is excellent. . . . She’s just a force around the basket. You really don’t want to shoot around her.
Howard uses balanced scoring to storm through Howard County: Howard is a team without a star. Taylor Addison leads the Lions with 14.1 points per game, and two other players — Courtney Furr (11.2 points per game) and Marisa Sanchez-Henry (10.3 points per game) — are scoring in double figures. Deonna Jones, perhaps Howard’s top defensive player, is averaging nine points per game.
That balance has powered No. 13 Howard (15-1) to a dominant regular season so far. The Lions’ talent and depth was on display Friday in a 70-22 blowout win over Marriotts Ridge.
It was Howard’s sixth win in a row, with its lone loss coming to Howard County rival Long Reach on Jan. 3. The Lightning handed the Lions a 70-51 defeat, which Howard Coach Scott Robinson said helped his team identify some key weaknesses.
“Seventy points is entirely too much to give up,” Robinson said. “They have to do a better job defensively, and I’ll take responsibility for that.”
Robinson also said the loss illuminated the importance of sharing the ball. He said the Lions’ shot selection has been much improved, thanks in part to the ballhandling ability of Sanchez-Henry.
Howard can get its revenge against Long Reach on Feb. 13, but the Lions aren’t looking too far ahead. The team has games against Glenelg and Reservoir this week, and it’ll take a balanced effort to keep their winning streak going.