Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Potomac ‘sisters’ pack a punch

Scoring duo keeping Wolverines near top of league standings

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Danielle Durant and Pryncess Tate-Dublin say they are sisters. Not by birth, but rather by basketball. The two Potomac High School players have known one another for nearly 10 years, since they first met on the court at the Capital Sports Complex in District Heights.

Although three years separate them — Tate-Dublin is a senior and Durant is a freshman — the guards are tied together by their common history and a common interest: They know how to score.

Tate-Dublin, who is averaging nearly 30 points a game, surpassed 1,000 career points against Surrattsville on Jan. 22. She sees traces of her younger self in Durant, who is averaging 12 points a game — three points more than Tate-Dublin put up when she was a freshman.

Tate-Dublin is on pace to become the all-time leading scorer in coach Michael Strother’s 15 years at the Oxon Hill school, but she’s happy her friend might be following in her footsteps. With their help, the Wolverines are 6-4 in the County 3A⁄2A⁄1A League, vying for third place with Surrattsville and up-and-coming Crossland.

‘‘This year, Pryncess had to step up into a position of a leader in rebounding and scoring and everything,” Strother said. ‘‘She’s done that. I think with the friendship she has with Danielle and her mentoring Danielle the way that she’s going, Danielle’s beginning to step right into her shoes.”

Durant got her high school start when she came off the bench to add an offensive punch in Potomac’s season opener. She finished with nine points and since has found her way into the starting lineup. Durant hasn’t taken the position for granted.

‘‘At first, I didn’t think I could do it,” Durant said. ‘‘I thought the competition was going to be hard because I’m a freshman. But I played my first game and I realized I could do it, so every game I try to play like I had to my first game.”

Strother described Tate-Dublin, who has signed to play for Old Dominion University next season, as a complete player. In fact, her scoring milestone was more the result of consistent, all-around play.

Last season, her best on offense before this year, she averaged 14 points and owned a career-high of 28 points. This year, she has doubled that average and hit a high of 39 in December.

Tate-Dublin said she knew she had it in her to pile points on opponents, but it’s only now that she’s had to. Previously, she said she shied away from shooting. When she was a freshman she started, but the Wolverines already had an established team and won the state Class 2A championship that year.

Potomac graduated all its starters except Tate-Dublin after last season, so the Wolverines were counting on her to take on a greater scoring load. She’s done that, but has found Durant to be a pleasant addition on the offensive front.

‘‘There wasn’t going to be anybody else on the team scoring, so when she stepped up the first few games in the season I knew I was going to have some help,” Tate-Dublin said.

Their relationship is one of mutual respect and cooperation. Durant deferred to Tate-Dublin when considering who would win a one-on-one battle. Actually, they’ve never faced each other head to head.

‘‘We don’t want to go against each other,” Durant said. ‘‘We want to go against other people.”

There are many people eager to face them, they said. The pair is known beyond their teammates for what they can do on the court. And the challengers rarely are girls.

‘‘People in school want to play us.” Tate-Dublin said.

Added Durant: ‘‘[They’re] making bets.”

E-mail Kevin Hilgers at khilgers@gazette.net.