The Washington Post

Calvert girls’ basketball team succeeds with a short bench

Senior guard Jasmine Weems (3), shown last season, is a leader in the back court for the Cavaliers. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

When the Calvert girls’ basketball team jogs into the gym to warm up before each game, a neophyte observer might wonder what happened to the rest of the squad.

First-year Coach Tim Contee kept only seven players on the varsity roster this season, leaving the 10th-ranked Cavaliers with perhaps the area’s shortest bench.

So far, though, the two-time defending Maryland 2A champions have shown that, for them, less is more — the Cavaliers are 12-1 and have won eight games in a row by a 41.9 point average margin of victory.

“We’re always scared that if somebody gets hurt we’ll be down to six and one injury can really shake up everything,” Contee said. “But there is nothing like a game situation to make learning experiences, so it’s like we have on the job training because everybody is getting that playing time.”

Contee emphasizes conditioning in practice and proper nutrition and rest for his players between games, and so far the limited substitutions have not caught up with his experienced squad.

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from high school basketball games in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC/The Washington Post)

Four Cavaliers are averaging double-digit scoring, and defensively, Calvert has allowed fewer than 30 points in five consecutive games.

Drexel recruit Alexis Smith (17.7 points per game) and fellow senior guard Jasmine Weems (13.7 ppg) — both starters on the two state championship teams — return as leaders in the back court, while 6-foot-2 junior center Daijah Thomas has grown from a key role player to a legitimate force around the basket.

Thomas is averaging 18.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game so far, and has become an incredibly tough matchup for undersized opponents.

“She’s just done everything we’ve asked her to do,” Contee said. “The sky is the limit for her. She’s just got to keep working and not be content with where she’s at now.”

A third-straight state title is looking like a very realistic possibility, but Contee says his Band of Seven isn’t thinking about a Run of Three.

“That was a different era,” Contee said. “This is a new season, a brand new era in Calvert basketball. We can’t live off of last year’s success because this is a different team.”

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