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H.S. basketball notes: McLean has the best player in the conference — and more talent around her

H.S. basketball notes: McLean has the best player in the conference — and more talent around her

Dufrane, the Liberty District player of the year last season, began her season by scoring 28 of McLean’s 54 points in a win against Chantilly. The fact that McLean is deeper now makes the offense more dangerous.

“It’s a conversation we’ve had a lot,” Coach Jen Sobota said. “We talk about it after games and things like that, some of the games we’ve lost, just talk about how it doesn’t really matter if you have one great player, especially in this area. There’s so many good teams that you need other people to score.”

Over the holiday break, McLean plays St. Maria Goretti in Princess Anne, Md. When the Highlanders return, the defending conference champions will be among the favorites again.

“My group is not going to settle just for beating a team and winning games,” Sobota said. “They want to go far. The conversation has become: This is what we did great, and let’s get back to work in practice and improve.”

Virginia boys’ player of the week: Landon Hawes, G, Potomac Falls. He scored 19 points in a win against Dominion on Thursday and then poured in 30 on Friday to lead a 71-66 win against Riverside.

Virginia girls’ player of the week: Brianna Scott, F, South Lakes. She scored 44 points in three games but was a bigger factor at the other end, piling up 15 blocks (eight Friday against Lake Braddock) along with 36 rebounds.

Game to watch: Centreville boys vs. Coolidge, 8 p.m. Friday.

St. Andrew’s thriving three stops at a time

On Wednesday night, when they should have been practicing for Thursday’s Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference game against Sidwell Friends, the St. Andrew’s Lions were exiting their gym.

Coach Kevin Jones had seen enough from his players and asked them to leave.

“I didn’t feel that we had the right level of intensity and focus in practice before that game,” he said later, the morning after his team took down the Quakers.

Jones knows a certain level of intensity is necessary for his team to succeed. Stopping opponents is what the group does best, and tight man-to-man defense ­requires focus and passion.

The coach didn’t see it Wednesday night, but so far this season it hasn’t been much of an issue. In their first eight games, the Lions allowed more than 60 points just once. In Thursday’s win over Sidwell, they held the Quakers to a staggeringly low 31.

They keep things simple on defense; the goal is always to get three stops in a row. If they can do that multiple times each game, the result is often favorable.

“We just like to make other teams uncomfortable, and then the biggest piece of the defense is rebounding,” Jones said. “Limit people to one-shot possessions, and we’re going to win.”

Private school boys’ player of the week: Ishmael Leggett, G, St. John’s. The senior reached 1,000 career points with a 22-point performance in a win over Rock Creek Christian.

Private school girls’ player of the week: Tyler Gray, G, Elizabeth Seton. After her team won the John Anderson Division bracket at the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions, Gray was named division MVP.

Game to watch Championship of the DeMatha Christmas Classic, 7:15 p.m. Sunday.

In a coaching family, Hammond’s leader begins her own legacy

When Hammond girls’ coach Alexis Briscoe returned to her Howard County home after tryouts this fall, her father, Avery, had plenty of questions.

”How’s your team?” he’d ask. “What’d you do?”

Briscoe grew up around coaching because her dad is Atholton’s longtime junior varsity girls’ basketball coach. After years of observing him, Briscoe took over Hammond’s program this October, and her dad still wanted to be involved.

Eventually, they agreed to limit their basketball conversations because they coach rival teams.

Creating her own legacy, Briscoe got her first win Friday in Hammond’s 36-32 victory over Glenelg.

“Having that first win of the season was kind of like a breath of fresh air,” Briscoe said. “Now they know it’s possible, so they can keep moving forward and we can keep working to get more wins under our belt.”

Hammond’s former coach left in the fall, and Briscoe was offered the position in early October. Briscoe learned as much as she could from her father and opposing coaches growing up, so commanding her own program was an opportunity she said she couldn’t turn down.

Maryland girls’ player of the week: Tiffany Hooker, G, Reservoir. The senior averaged 30 points over three wins.

Maryland boys’ player of the week: Cameron Tweedy, F, Westlake. The senior averaged 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in wins over Patuxent and Pallotti.

Theodore Roosevelt starts 11-0, keeps sights on DCIAA title

A win over three-time defending league champion Wilson has catapulted the Theodore Roosevelt boys to their best start since 2012-13 — when the Rough Riders won 21 straight.

The Rough Riders (11-0) are doing it by forcing opponents to play at a faster tempo than they would prefer. A malleable and unconventional rotation has helped.

“In the first quarter, we try to get all 15 guys onto the court, even if it’s only a minute, just to see which of our players has it tonight and wants to run and who doesn’t,” Coach Rob Nickens said. “At this level, kids are inconsistent from night to night, so just got to play them all early. And then once we figure out our top eight, we try to run it down the other team’s throat the rest of the way.”

“Play 15, trust eight,” is what they say.

Going 15 deep isn’t a new concept for Theodore Roosevelt, but depth has become more vital than ever for D.C. public schools. This season, the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association implemented a rule that requires teams to play three conference games a week in addition to any nonconference games they have on the schedule.

D.C./Prince George’s County boys’ player of the week: Saveon Jackson, G, KIPP. Jackson averaged 15.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists in three games last week.

D.C./Prince George’s County girls’ player of the week: Janiah Williams, F, Eastern. She has been the catalyst behind the Ramblers’ five-game winning streak. The junior averaged 18.6 points and 14 rebounds as Eastern knocked off Anacostia, Friendly and Banneker to improve to 6-2.

Game of the week: McKinley Tech boys vs. Northwest, 2 p.m. Friday.

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