Richard Montgomery Girls Basketball Reaping Benefits of New Culture


The Richard Montgomery girls basketball program is dramatically improving.

In years past, the Rockets have struggled to string wins together. That all changed last season when the team finished 10-13. Although the team had a losing record, the 10 victories were the most the program had accrued in a single season in the past decade.

The success of last season has continued this year. Richard Montgomery is 8-2, having picked up victories against programs with winning records like Rockville, Wootton and Gaithersburg.

"The girls really increased their commitment and embraced the idea of training year round. Even though seven seniors graduated, we retained the burning desire to train and continuously improve," head coach Mike Oakes said. "Our players spend a lot of time together and the relationships built off the court are helping us on the court this season."

The team's closeness shines through when the Rockets have the ball. Oakes highlighted his team's unselfish play and passing ability as two major keys for the team's strong start. The Rockets are at their best playing a fast break style, but have the depth to be able to also hurt opponents when playing in a half court setup.

The group's versatility and spirit was on display in the team's 66-57 win against Wootton, a result Oakes referred to as Richard Montgomery's marquee victory. The Rockets had a slow start to the game and found themselves down 16 points at halftime before rallying.

"We never gave up. We didn't get down on each other during a tough first half," Oakes said. "Most importantly it was a team win. Junior forward Chloe Sherman and senior guard Madeleine Cheng got their first career starts and gave us a huge lift. Deedee Yan scored 14 points, including four three pointers. As a coach, there's nothing better than watching players who have invested so much take advantage of their opportunities to shine."

One player that has really stood out this season for Richard Montgomery is junior forward Melanie Osborne, who is averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds a game. To Oakes though, Osborne's impact goes far beyond her stats, providing the versatility to play both inside and along the perimeter, as well as being an excellent team leader.

Junior center Nusaibah Rashad has also been excellent, hauling in an average of 15 rebounds a game, as well as scoring 12 points. In three games this season, Rashad has come away with at least 20 rebounds. Senior forward Mackenzie Harwood, who also runs the court in transition very effectively, joins Rashad in being the Rockets' main rebounding presence.

Kate Schuck, a junior, has been a leader for the guards on the team, and is enjoying a terrific season. Schuck also appears to be getting better as the year goes on, registering back to back double doubles in Richard Montgomery's most recent contests.

"The biggest thing is all 12 players have demonstrated that when called upon they can and will contribute for us," Oakes said. "That is the most special aspect of this team."

Looking ahead, Richard Montgomery is going to need to get production from all its players to keep its excellent season going.

The Rockets are slated for a tough week of games, starting tomorrow with the defending MPSSAA 4A state champion Whitman, followed by B-CC on Friday. Both teams have just one loss this season.

It'll be a great chance for Richard Montgomery to measure itself against the traditional best of Montgomery County, but more importantly a chance for the team to improve. Despite the team enjoying more success, that has remained the program's goal since Oakes became head coach three years ago.

"We want to get one percent better every day," Oakes said. "It's working well for us so far."
January 9th, 2017By: Wick Eisenberg

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