The New Hope Academy girls’ basketball program traveled to Tennessee this past weekend and announced itself to the rest of the country. Not only did the second-year program win the Division I bracket at the National Association of Christian Athletes championship tournament, but its junior varsity and middle school programs also took home titles.
“This was a big weekend for the whole program,” Coach Sam Caldwell said shortly after he landed back in the Washington area.
Caldwell is no stranger to the NACA tournament, having participated in it, and won it, many times as coach at Riverdale Baptist. Now in his second year at New Hope, he has helped build from scratch a nationally renowned program.
As an independent private school in Landover Hills, the team doesn’t have a traditional league playoff structure, so tournaments such as NACA’s provide a chance for New Hope to win hardware. Caldwell said that the many tournaments and events the Tigers played this season helped prepare them to win four games in Tennessee.
“It’s solely attributed to the schedule that we play,” he said. “Those experiences help our kids stay poised and calm.”
The team needed plenty of poise in the NACA title game: Caldwell’s old team, Riverdale Baptist, took it to overtime. But the Tigers didn’t allow a point in the extra period and came away with a 64-57 victory.
“It was a rivalry game and a game that a national championship is supposed to be,” Caldwell said. “A tough, gritty game.”
The Tigers made it to the title game in their inaugural season last year but fell short. This year, they were led by three guards who ended up on the all-tournament team: senior Kylie Kornegay-Lucas, junior Delicia Pinnick and sophomore Jada Walker.
With one title in hand, the Tigers turn their attention to the Bishop Walsh Invitational, where they could again play the Crusaders. After that, they’re hoping to be selected for the Geico High School Nationals in New York.
“Getting to the end of the season and being able to do things like this, it’s one of the best feelings in the world,” Caldwell said.
— Michael Errigo
Paint Branch awaits coin flip for playoff seeding
After more than 20 regular season games, a coin flip Tuesday will determine whether Paint Branch or Sherwood gets the No. 1 seed in the Maryland 4A North Region Section 2 playoffs. No matter the result, both teams have a first-round bye.
With nearly two weeks between games, Paint Branch (17-6) will simulate game situations during practice to gear up for the playoffs.
“We’ll have a minicamp where we do a lot of reviews and skill breakdown. We will go practice with another team. It allows the coaches to coach and work situational stuff,” Coach Heather Podosek said. “Playoffs is every other day. If you look too far forward, you’re going to get beat.”
Podosek said her team has been sharing the ball well recently, and each player recognizes her role. The Panthers rounded out the regular season by winning nine of the last 10 games. “What is nice about this team is they do recognize the people with the hot hand and they do try to steer the ball to find them,” she said.
This season, the hot hands have belonged to Patricia Anumgba and Katerra Myers, who are averaging 21.4 and 18.3 points. After getting blown out by 36 in the regional final last year, the Panthers will ask a lot from the duo to lead the squad deep into the playoffs.
— David J. Kim
Anacostia may have found its next star guard
Even when guard Mya Moye was dominating the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association last season, Anacostia Coach Reginald Walker had his eyes on guard Kamryn Anthony to become the team’s next star.
Moye, a first-team All-Met selection last year, and Anthony guarded each other in practice. Growing up, Anthony had no problem competing with boys at Anacostia’s summer basketball camp.
In the first round of the D.C. State Athletic Association Class AA tournament Wednesday, Anthony will face her toughest defensive assignment: St. John’s guard Azzi Fudd, last season’s All-Met Player of the Year.
“We hope these last two years have prepared her to guard Azzi Fudd,” Walker said. “It’s a tough assignment, but someone has to do it.”
Moye, now at Florida A&M, was a scorer — she dropped 50 points in last year’s DCIAA title game. Anthony is a pass-first guard who can make shots when needed.
Anacostia (14-14) won the DCIAA championship in 2017 and 2018 but fell to Dunbar in this year’s semifinals. With Anthony and 6-foot center Brenda McKinney returning next season, Walker hopes his squad will bring the league crown back to the Southeast Washington school.
“We think that next year is going to be her breakout year,” Walker said of Anthony.
— Kyle Melnick
Edison poised for a run at state title
Edison is returning to the Virginia state tournament for the eighth straight season, and it’s doing so coming off a signature win. The Eagles (24-1) knocked off previously undefeated Freedom-South Riding, 57-43, in the Region 5C North final Friday.
“We didn’t talk about it; we faced them as any other opponent,” Coach Dianne Lewis said. “Everyone’s going to be good, whether you’re undefeated or have a couple losses. Everyone’s a tough opponent.”
Senior guard Carole Miller had 18 points, the type of performance Edison can expect by this point, but perhaps more important is the emergence of senior Jaylah Evans. Before the region tournament, Evans averaged just six points, but the 5-foot-5 forward has been finding her offensive stride, including a 15-point performance against Tuscarora in the 80-64 semifinal win that clinched another state berth.
“She’s leading in offensive rebounds; I don’t think she knows she’s the shortest on the team,” Lewis said. “She is just fearless. That’s a great way to show everybody how you can play.”
A starter this season, Evans has been improving her overall game, and she also has been able to establish herself as a role player and a leader.
Having won both district and region titles this season, the Eagles are looking to add a state title after being the runner-up to Princess Anne last year. It would be their first since 1978.
“Now our focus can be a little bit bigger, but we want to take care of one thing at a time,” Lewis said. “It’s up to us.”
— Sammi Silber