Any other season, forward Mallory Brodnik tries to score simply to help the Jefferson girls’ basketball team win. But Brodnik has added another motive this year.
Brodnik’s younger sister, Kelly, died at age 15 in September after battling osteosarcoma for 2½ years. Wanting to cure children with cancer, Brodnik partnered with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to raise money for research.
Brodnik’s fundraising page includes an option to donate a dollar for every point Brodnik scores during her senior season. Through eight games, Jefferson’s leading scorer has 105 points. Brodnik wrote “KB, this one’s for you,” in black Sharpie on the outside of her right Nike basketball sneaker so she can encourage herself at any point.
“She had been to many basketball games previously and always supported me,” Brodnik said. “She would always text me before games.”
Kelly Brodnik also played basketball growing up, but she was limited after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2016. Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer that’s most common in people between ages 10 and 30.
The past two years, Brodnik organized a basketball game to raise money for cancer research. She wanted to do more to honor her sister through basketball, though. This past summer, Brodnik’s dad, Mike, mentioned Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which is focused on improving childhood cancer research.
Brodnik noticed the foundation had worked with athletes, and she soon began fundraising.
“So many people who I didn’t expect to donate or show their support have,” Brodnik said.
Georgetown Visitation and Madison girls’ basketball players wore purple shirts before their game Friday that read “Kelly Strong” on the front. Brodnik is on track to reach her goal of 300 points, and she could get closer Tuesday against Lee, which Brodnik scored double-digit points against twice last year.
Kelly “didn’t want me to just spend my whole life doing things for cancer and kids,” said Brodnik, a University of Chicago commit. “I’m definitely going to make sure I do things that I want to do, but I also want to continue to raise money and spread awareness for childhood cancer, so other young girls can live long lives even after diagnosis.”
— Kyle Melnick
Riverdale Baptist clicking after adding talent and depth
On a season-to-season basis it’s hard to predict what Riverdale Baptist’s roster will look like. The independent private school, one of the most heralded girls’ basketball programs in the area, always attracts talent and adds impact transfers just about every offseason.
But it’s becoming increasingly easy to predict what the Crusaders’ early season record will look like, as Coach Mike Bozeman has his team clicking early for the second year in a row. After beating nationally ranked Southeast Raleigh and Australia’s Victoria Country at the She Got Game Classic this weekend, Riverdale is 7-0.
The Crusaders have a number of new players this year, including Good Counsel transfer Rayne Tucker, a James Madison commit, and former North Point standout Synia Johnson. Their experience comes in the backcourt, where Yanni Hendley and Kaylah Ivey return from last year’s team. That squad featured two McDonald’s all-Americans and finished 23-5.
“Part of our theme this year is for them to introduce themselves,” Bozeman said. “That’s not to say they don’t have talent — I think this team has as much talent as last year’s — but there’s not a ‘marquee name.’ ”
Bozeman said his favorite thing about this year’s roster is the depth. Four minutes into Saturday’s game against Victoria Country, he subbed out all five starters. Not because he was upset at their play or believed they needed a break. He just wanted to utilize the team’s depth to keep everyone as fresh possible in the second game of a back-to-back, and he had the skill available to pull that off.
“To have that kind of luxury, it’s something I expect to pay dividends this year,” Bozeman said.
— Michael Errigo
Reservoir aims to compete in Howard County
Reservoir Coach Deb Taylor admitted that Long Reach and Howard are the two teams to beat in Howard County. After all, the two teams have finished atop of the county rankings in the past several years.
So after Taylor’s team beat Long Reach on Wednesday after being up by 16 at halftime and lost a close one to Howard in the season opener, do the Gators deserve to be mentioned as a top team in the Howard County?
“That’s not really our story to tell,” Taylor said. “That’s up to [the reporters].”
Losing just one starter from last year’s squad, Reservoir has the tools to be a top team in the county. Against Long Reach, the Gators avenged last year’s overtime loss in the playoffs. They blew out Atholton by 23 points and Carnasle of New York by 41 in She Got Game Classic.
Star returning player Emily Dorn, who averaged a double-double last season, scored 28 points against Long Reach. Reservoir brought back four players with starting experience.
“We worked really hard, and we’re confident,” Taylor said. “We think we’re going to get more signature wins like this. That’s what’s going to make the ultimate decision about where we belong in the conversation.”
But with improved play across the county, the Gators aren’t looking ahead of themselves despite a signature win.
“We have our work cut out for us just about every night. We can’t ever look too far ahead,” Taylor said. "I have six seniors, and for them, it’s their last big shot.”
— David J. Kim
Oxon Hill rallies in national test
With his team facing a 21-point halftime deficit against Boca Raton (Fla.) on Saturday, Oxon Hill Coach Devone Williams still had hope.
The Clippers returned all five starters from last season, so they’ve leaned on their chemistry and experience through practices and games this winter. After Williams jawed at his team about limiting its turnovers and raising its defensive intensity, Oxon Hill outscored its opponent, 34-10, in the second half to win, 50-46, in the She Got Game Classic.
“Coming into the season,” Williams said, “any game that we’re in we know we have a chance.”
Oxon Hill (1-1) fell to Rock Creek Christian in its season-opener Monday after blowing a lead in the fourth quarter. The Clippers then came out sluggish in Saturday’s first half.
Williams said Oxon Hill’s leaders, Northeastern commit Mossi Staples and Howard commit Iyanna Warren, picked up their energy and their teammates followed.
Williams hopes Saturday’s spurt changes the tone for the rest of the Clippers’ season as they compete in Prince George’s County and pursue a Maryland 3A championship.
“To be able to come back,” Williams said, “it reminded us of what we’re capable of.”
— Kyle Melnick