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New kids on the court

SchoolsâEUR(TM) girls squads ending a learning season

SchoolsâEUR(TM) girls squads ending a learning season

February 16, 2006|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

Few could distinguish a chest pass from a bounce pass during the teams' first few practices.

And these were the 23 girls who made the varsity and junior varsity teams during the November tryouts.

"Out of all of you, how many of you had played on a basketball team before you joined?" coach Dan Scally asked during a junior varsity practice.

Only three of the nine girls at practice that day raised their hands.

The players, who belong to E. Russell Hicks Middle School's first girls basketball squad, have greatly improved since the season started.

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The new program is part of the Antietam Division of the Mid-Maryland Girls Junior Basketball League, said Scally, the junior varsity coach and the program's director.

Both the junior varsity and varsity teams play their last games of the regular season Saturday against Northern Middle School.

Anthony McGinthy coaches the varsity squad, which has 11 girls. The junior varsity team has 12 girls, one of them a fifth-grader at Pangborn Elementary School, Scally said. Scally said he started the program at the request of several parents.

The league is not part of Washington County Public Schools programing, which does not offer a basketball program for middle school students.

For players, being on the squad has taught them the importance of teamwork and leadership.

"I used to be the type to just get the ball and shoot," said Ashley Rodriguez, a 12-year-old sixth-grader. "I've learned to share the ball more. Your whole team's really counting on you and depending on you ... "

They've moved beyond passing and are easing from zone defenses to more complicated man-to-man strategies, the coach said.

One time during a game, when her team was down a few points, Ashley got so frustrated, Scally said, "she was running herself so crazy she injured herself. That's how determined she is."

Julie Miller, 13, of Hagerstown, said she had never played on a basketball team before she joined the Lady Rebels. Now, she's a starter.

"I fight for the ball and stuff," Julie said. "I don't like to see the opponent with the ball."

She recapped her very first game, played against Boonsboro Middle School.

Julie said the other girls seemed so much bigger. She thought they were going to be too much for her teammates.

"But then, once I saw that we could keep up with them, I didn't get nervous," she said.

Boonsboro beat them, 43-10.

Scally said though this year's players were new to the game, many of the girls were coming back next year, bringing more talent with them.

The Lady Rebels are in sixth place out of eight teams in the varsity division. The junior varsity team is eighth in its division.

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