“Basketball is a game of streaks and runs,” says Noel Klippenstein, coach of the George C. Marshall girls varsity basketball team.
None may know it better than she and the Lady Statesmen this year. After winning their first four games of the season, eight of the 10 players on the team were struck by the flu bug, along with members of the coaching staff. To further their health troubles, a concussion to a player and other minor injuries hindered the progress of some of the players, sitting them on the bench much longer than anticipated.
However, a basketball season does not stop for health maladies, so the Lady Statesmen were forced to play on. They did, however, lose their next 12 games, dropping to a 4-12 overall mark and 0-9 in the Liberty District.
Finally, the program appears to be back on track and gaining momentum once more, as the Marshall girls won both of their games last week, avenging losses earlier in the season against both teams.
On Friday night, in front of a supportive home crowd, the Lady Statesmen found themselves pitted against the Thomas Jefferson Colonials on Senior Night for Marshall. Senior forward Ali Johnson started the celebration off right, posting up a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Sophomore Carlie Zirkle had a double-digit effort of her own with 12 points, and freshman Carmen Mann, junior Amanda Flynn and senior Dawn Emerson each scored eight. The Lady Statesmen, feeling no pressure from their 12-game losing streak, iced the game by going 7-8 from the free throw line in the final quarter.
The Lady Statesmen were looking to build on their newfound momentum as they traveled to Stone Bridge on Monday night, where the girls won their second game in a row, 51-42. Sophomores Theresa Hackett and Zirkle each scored 11 points and Flynn had a nine-point, five-rebound effort of her own. However, the hero of the night for the Lady Statesmen was undoubtedly Johnson. Fresh off her double-double from Friday, Johnson scored eight points, grabbed 17 rebounds (16 defensive) and swatted a career-high five shots. Johnson’s defensive presence clearly made the difference for the Lady Statesmen, as Stone Bridge struggled for uncontested shots all night.
This week, the Lady Statesmen hope to keep rolling with home games against South Lakes on Thursday night and McLean on Tuesday.