Ten days after her team was throttled by Whitman, 49-31, Paint Branch coach Rochelle Coleman witnessed her team fall behind by 15 points during the third quarter of Friday’s game against Tuscarora (Md.). In many ways, it was exactly the scenario Coleman wanted – a chance to see if her team would wilt, and moreover, a chance to see what kind of grit her young point guard Kiara Colston had.

Colston didn’t disappoint. She scored 25 points — including an 8 for 8 showing from the free throw line — and added six rebounds as Paint Branch outscored Tuscarora 20-6 in the fourth quarter to claim a 63-57 win in the CKE/Paint Branch Holiday Tournament final. It was the third straight win for the Panthers (6-2, 1-0 Montgomery 4A East), who have positioned themselves as one of the top squads in Montgomery County heading into conference play, and have discovered a bright future in addition. Not only has Colston (14.8 points per game) been consistent, but she is just one half of the backcourt equation; sophomore shooting guard Daisa Harris is averaging 18.1 points per game.

“Me and Daisa go well together. . . I know she can attack the basket,” Colston said. “If I got in foul trouble or something, I know she can handle (point guard duties) just as well as I could.”

The difference in Colston’s game from her sophomore to junior season is notable, Coleman said. A year ago, she was primarily a slasher who didn’t have a strong ability to score on the perimeter. Colston has added a refined jump shot to her game, and being offset by Harris has allowed her to focus on being a point guard first, and scorer second.

“We have to feel each other out,” Colston said. “We’re getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Harris has scored in double figures in seven of eight games this season and had 19 points in the win over Tuscarora. It was a confidence-building win for a team that is still molding its identity behind two young, up-and-coming guards.

“It was good,” Coleman said. “For them to see something different, and for them to, you know, have to work through adversity and come together as a team, that was a big moment for us. Hopefully we can build on it.”