The Atholton girls’ basketball team will head into the new year with a new coach. Julia Reynolds — who had been the Raiders’ junior varsity coach — has taken over the varsity job on an interim basis, replacing Maureen Shacreaw, who was relieved of her duties on Dec. 23.
The Raiders are winless in league play this season with six straight losses since a season-opening win over North County and pulled out of a scheduled appearance in the Pine Grove (Pa.) Cardinal Classic last week after the coaching change was made. Reynolds, a former player under Shacreaw, is slated to make her coaching debut when the Raiders (1-6) resume league play on Wednesday, hosting Mount Hebron.
Atholton principal Jennifer Clements said Monday she could not discuss school personnel matters or comment further on Shacreaw’s removal. But Shacreaw, who was in her 12th season at the Columbia school, said in a telephone interview on Sunday that she suspected the move was coming in recent weeks, especially after an incident in which she ‘exchanged words’ with a volunteer assistant during practice.
She said she was told prior to the team’s final pre-Christmas practice that she’d been relieved of her duties because of an inability to communicate with her staff and run a stable program.
“They said it was time for a change,” Shacreaw said by phone on Sunday morning. “The people who get hurt the most are the kids. I don’t even want to go to school [Monday] because I don’t know what the reaction will be.”
Shacreaw’s removal was first reported by ExploreHoward.com.
Shacreaw earned All-Met Coach of the Year honors in 2006-07 after guiding the Raiders to a 25-3 record and the Maryland 2A title. She also helped the team to a state semifinal appearance the previous season. Before coming to Atholton, she spent 10 seasons as a softball and girls’ junior varsity basketball coach at Good Counsel.
Shacreaw said she will continue to teach history at the school and hopes to coach again elsewhere.
No area girls’ team was as well-traveled the past two weeks as No. 3 Good Counsel.
The Falcons split four games in the top bracket at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona from Dec. 19-22 and then won three games at the Naples (Fla.) Daily News Holiday Shootout before falling to nationally ranked Whitney Young (Ill.) in the tournament final on New Year’s Eve.
“I’d put our schedule the last two weeks up against anybody’s,” Good Counsel Coach Tom Splaine said. “Hopefully our girls learned a lot about themselves. That’s what these tournaments are about — growing together and giving us a great chance to make a run” in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
One thing the Falcons (10-3) learned was how to cope without their starting point guard. Junior Lindsey Spann injured her ankle in the final game at the Nike tournament and did not play in Florida. She is expected to return this week.
Senior guard Faith Randolph, junior forward Amanda Fioravanti and sophomore guard-forward Sara Woods made the all-tournament team in Naples. Junior guard Jordan Light helped fill in for Spann, the team’s third-leading scorer.
Good Counsel led Whitney Young at the half but got outscored by 16 in the second half.
“There was no shot clock at either tournament, and we found out how much we missed it,” said Splaine, whose team was down by six or so early in the fourth quarter when Whitney Young held the ball to drain the clock.
Lindsay Poss has long been Poolesville’s top offensive threat, but the senior forward had never had a night like this. Poss — the team’s leading scorer each of the last three seasons — poured in a school-record 43 points in the Falcons’ 63-52 win over Seneca Valley on Dec. 21.
In a tight contest between two of the better Montgomery 3A/2A squads, Poss surpassed her previous career-high of 23 points and kept going. She converted 14 of her 28 field goal attempts in the game and helped the Falcons (4-4) outscore the Screaming Eagles, 22-11, in the fourth quarter.
The performance tied Poss with Brooke Point sophomore Tykera Carter for the highest single-game scoring output by an area girls’ player this season. Carter had 43 points in a 69-56 loss to Stafford on Dec. 16.
“She got most of her points within the offense,” Poolesville Coach Fred Swick said of Poss. “It was just one of those nights when she was ready to score and her teammates were looking for her. It really worked out.”
Poss, who hopes to continue her career at a Division III college next season, has picked up her scoring each season since leading the team with 8.8 points per game as a freshman.
After bumping up to 12.2 points per game as a sophomore, Poss scored 12.8 points per game a year ago as Poolesville posted 18 wins. In eight games this season, she’s averaged 19 points per game, including 23 points in a 46-39 loss to then-No. 13 Northwest (7-2) on Wednesday at the Clarksburg Holiday Tournament.
Behind Poss’s surge, the Falcons have won three of their last four games. All four of their losses this season have come against teams with winning records.
“I think we’ve played much better the last three or four games,” Swick said. “We were right in the game against Northwest until the end, within a few points until the final minute. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Through the first seven games last winter, C.H. Flowers was 4-3 and no where near the team that would drop only three games over the next two months and reach the Maryland 4A South Region semifinals, finishing 17-6.
But with eight returning players from last season, the Jaguars don’t seem like the December teams of the past. They’re 6-1, riding a four-game winning streak that includes two wins at a holiday tournament.
“I think what I saw in December, if I look back over the years, this has been our strongest start,” said C.H. Flowers Coach Patrice Watson, who is in her 12th year at the school. “Anybody that has been watching any of the Flowers teams, what you see in December, you won’t see in January or February.”
Part of the team’s early success has been the players’ ability to blend together quickly and adapt to their roles, some of which are new, Watson said.
“We’re just having fun,” she said. “I think the kids that were added to the program, coming from JV to varsity, I can actually say we’re enjoying one another. They’re learning the system and the ones that have been part of varsity for the past couple years, they’re working on their individual games.”
Another part of the strong start has been the play of junior guard Kyah Proctor, who was named team MVP at the Woodlawn Tournament for back-to-back 20-point games in wins over Randallstown and Long Reach.
Last season, Proctor was an occasional starter and wasn’t the leader. But this winter, she has made the most of her starting role, controlling her aggressiveness on the court and playing strong defense. “She’s doing a lot of things the she didn’t have to do last year,” Watson said.
At Madison boys’ basketball games, the fan section is called the “Red Sea.” For the girls games, the section – a small but ardent core of fans – has taken on the nickname “Black Puddle.”
“Ours is a lot smaller,” junior point guard Megan LeDuc said. “So it’s a puddle.”
After a strong start to the season, however, there’s a chance it won’t stay a small puddle of fans for long.
The No. 15 Warhawks (7-3) captured the Westfield Bulldog Bash Holiday tournament title last week with wins over Centreville (8-3), Paul VI Catholic (10-2) and Westfield (9-3), continuing an early-season run that has many believing Madison could be a contender in the region.
There certainly are no doubts within the Warhawks’ locker room, especially not after a schedule that saw them play No. 7 Oakton, previously-ranked Georgetown Visitation and defending region champion West Springfield in the first seven games of the season.
Madison did not win any of those games, but the four-point loss to the No. 8 Spartans and a three-point loss to Visitation instilled a confidence that they belong in the conversation for region contender.
“We play like we have nothing to lose and we don’t,” LeDuc said. “They are the ones with something that to lose.”
LeDuc, who is averaging 9.9 points per game, said the addition of the 6-foot-2 Koshuta to the offense has given the team an inside-out look that they previously did not have, and that it has opened up so much more for the rest of the team.
“I think anyone on our team can score,” LeDuc said. “We have some great shooters, but if someone’s on, I try to keep giving them the ball. If the defense adjusts to them then something else will open up to the rest of the team.”
With the brunt of their Virginia AAA Liberty District schedule ahead, the Warhawks are looking to go undefeated, LeDuc said. If they do, the Black Puddle might need a name change.
“We’ll try to make it a pond or maybe even a sea,” LeDuc said.
Osbourn Park (9-1) defeated three Virginia Beach-area teams to win its bracket at the Boo Williams Holiday Tournament, but the Yellow Jackets still have not played what they would consider a complete game.
“I guess I'm the unhappiest 9-1 coach in the country,” said Osbourn Park Coach Cliff Gorham, whose team's only loss this season was 63-57 to Stonewall Jackson in overtime. “I think we have so much more to give.”
For various reasons, the Yellow Jackets have been without their complete lineup for most of the season, including at the holiday tournament. Sophomore guard Brennan Gappy and junior center Rachel Lewis had family commitments and starting senior center Maddie Ebel went down in the second tournament game with a bruised sternum, this after missing time with a concussion.
Carter scored 21 points in the 54-52 championship win over Landstown.
“We’re young, skilled and immature, so it leads to some interesting games,” Gorham said. “We have spurts of perfection and spurts of ‘whatever’ sometimes.”
The Yellow Jackets can afford little of that ‘whatever’ Wednesday when they host No. 17 Potomac (Va.) in a key Virginia AAA Cardinal District game. Potomac (10-1) has won the past three in the series.
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