Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

Newcomers give B-CC girls basketball a new look

King and Hook having an immediate impact for B-CC

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Though the vast majority of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase girls basketball team is returning from last season, coach Rob Kurtz welcomed two key newcomers in the off-season: transfer guard Maggie King and freshman center Maddie Hook.

Both players fought through illness at the beginning of the season, delaying their impact. But Friday, the pair combined for nine points in the Barons’ 53-26 win over Einstein, and are now both part of the starting lineup.

‘‘The one who’s really stepped up is Maddie,” Kurtz said. ‘‘She had eight points in the consolation game of our holiday tournament. ... She only had four points against Einstein, but she had five or six blocks. She’s much more aggressive.”

King moved to the area from Boston before the season and immediately scored 14 points in the season opener. Her production dropped off after that, but a return to full health has signaled a return to form.

B-CC (3-6) entered Friday’s game off its second three-game losing streak of the season. But that included a pair of games at a New Jersey holiday tournament, one of which — to Woodrow Wilson — was the team’s third loss by either one or two points.

‘‘Wilson, Damascus and Sherwood — those could have gone either way,” Kurtz said. ‘‘We just keep talking about not settling for mediocrity. We’re 3-4 without New Jersey, so we’re right on that cusp.”

Junior guard Alicia Gorina (14 points Friday) and senior forward Allie Russo (12) appear to have stepped up at the Barons’ go-to scorers for the season. That will be important, as B-CC enters the meat of its schedule in the 3A⁄2A⁄1A East Division. After Tuesday’s game against Northwood, which finished too late for this edition, the Barons visit Kennedy Friday in a key league game.

B-CC boys readjust

The Bethesda-Chevy Chase boys basketball team has now played five-and-a-half games without the services of senior guard Austin Cooley, ‘‘the best player in the county,” according to his own coach, Steve Thompson. And though it has lost four of those six games, the Barons seem to be finding their feet again, if Friday’s 68-56 win over Einstein is any guide.

‘‘We need him back, but in the meantime, we’re learning how to play without him,” Thompson said. ‘‘Which is good. It was a really nice win Friday. ... We’re getting better every day.”

The Barons (5-4) held Einstein’s leading scorer, Dennis Bassich, to 18 points; an accomplishment, considering he’d scored 47 in his previous outing. B-CC junior Nate Koenig had a breakout performance with 23 points, and classmate David Williams added 12 while checking Bassich for much of the game.

Including its holiday tournament performance — including a 15-point win over Blair and a one-point, last-second loss to Poolesville — B-CC is allowing an average of 47 points in its last three games.

Scoring points themselves has been the biggest challenge. Friday night was the team’s highest offensive output, by far, since Cooley went down.

‘‘That’s why last night such big game for us to come out score 68,” Thompson said. ‘‘We’ve been getting scoring from a lot of different people. [Koenig] stepping up like that took pressure off a couple of other kids. ... We’ve been waiting for that. He’s been pressing without Cooley there.”

Cooley broke two bones in his right hand, leading to his pinky and ring finger, Dec. 14 against Damascus. He had a plate and screws inserted five days later, and will have an X-Ray later this month to determine if his hand has healed. When he gets the green light, Thompson said he will resume practice and start playing about a week later.

In the meantime, he comes to practice every day and dribbles with his left hand. Cooley, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 13.2 points per game last season and was being courted by Division I colleges.

‘‘We’re keeping our fingers crossed; I know he’s itching to play,” Thomson said. ‘‘He’s a blue-chipper. Austin even at 80 percent is better than what anybody else has.”