It was their second game of the day, fourth of the weekend, and for some of Walt Whitman High School’s girls basketball players, it was well past double-digit games for the month.
And as if that wasn’t enough, they had to play two extra minutes on Sunday in a 40-38 overtime victory against Archbishop Spalding, then had to play another game against Paint Branch the next day.
Between summer league, tournaments and showcases, the offseason grind can take its toll on teams, such as Whitman, which are laden with aspiring college basketball players. Some of Whitman’s girls have played about 20 games in July, taking trips to Illinois and Pennsylvania and capping off their busy month this past weekend with five games in the Under Armour Best of Maryland Basketball Tournament held at Damascus High School. But such is life for the high school athletes who are looking for an edge, not just for the summer recruiting period, but for the upcoming winter season.
“Our bodies are going to get worked. People get bruises, bumps,” rising sophomore Abby Meyers said. “... But we’re able to handle it. We’re working harder.”
Whitman’s players have been so busy this summer that the team had to drop out of the Montgomery County Summer League playoffs earlier this month after a 7-3 regular season. The Bethesda school wasn’t alone; four of the league’s 26 teams — including Our Lady of Good Counsel — had to pull out of the postseason, according to Brad Roos, a senior sports specialist with the Montgomery County Department of Recreation.
“I made a decision this year that we haven’t made in a long time,” said Good Counsel coach Tom Splaine, whose Falcons reached the quarterfinals of the Best of Maryland tournament. “I was just looking at the schedule that these kids were playing with AAU. I just thought it would be better, saving their legs.”
Paint Branch, a 4A state semifinalist, elected to forgo summer league altogether as all but two if its players were on AAU teams. Panthers coach Rochelle Coleman said summer basketball can be just as draining as the regular season, but “it’s a different kind of tired.”
“Basketball season is a slow ride. When you get to March it’s like, man we’ve been doing this forever,” Coleman said. “Summer, July hits, and you’re just playing, playing, playing, it kind of just punches you in the face. It’s just as tiring but it’s a different kind of tiring.”
Paint Branch’s Daisa Harris and Tyra Sinclair, members of the Germantown Lady Panthers, said they have played in about 30 games this month with their high school and AAU teams.
“Yeah, we get tired, but it’s all about the commitment and dedication,” Harris said.
Whitman graduated five seniors from last year’s 21-3 team, which had its 20-game win streak snapped with a loss to John F. Kennedy in the 4A West semifinals. The Vikings return their top three scorers: Marie Hatch (9.3 points), Meyers (8.4) and Nicole Fleck (7.3).
“We didn’t lose that,” junior Betsy Knox said. “Like [Abby] said, it’s our defense that we need to pick up. It’s just something that we’ll learn as we go on.”
Whitman has completed its major summer tournaments, but there will be little downtime in the next few months, Knox said.
“It’s not a break because we’re all motivated, we motivate each other,” Knox said.
Added Meyers: “It’s never really a break for us. We’re always working.”