In one corner is Erica McCauley. Five-foot, 1-inch, sophomore point guard. Best ball handler and shooter in Howard County. Scrappy defender, superb passer, court leader in the purest sense of the title.
In the other corner is Christy McCauley. Five-foot, 6-inch, senior shooting guard. Not as gifted as Erica, more of a jack of all trades. Excellent outside shot. Best foul shooter in school history. Deceptiverebounder. Not as quick as Erica, but just as smart and hard-workingon defense. Can also run the point if necessary.
And in the middle of the county's premier basketball siblings is Mount Hebron girls coach Dave Greenberg, who still pinches himself when he watches the McCauley sisters flash their abundant skills for his team.
"They (Erica and Christy) understand the game so well, andthey're selfless players," says Greenberg, whose 21-3 Vikings took a13-game winning streak into this weekend's Class 2A state girls tournament, largely due to the McCauley sisters.
Greenberg's 13th season -- which produced his eighth 20-win season and 11th county title -- in many ways has been a signature for Erica.
Coming off an injury-plagued freshman season she described as "the worst year of my life," Erica has spent the past three months putting a back ailment behind her, while putting on a clinic for the Vikings.
Erica is averaging a team-leading 15.5 points a game and has done it most notably from behind the three-point line. She has hit 44 percent of her treys (48 of 109) to go with her 47 percent shooting from two-point range. She's scored 20 or more points six times and has failed to reach doublefigures just twice in 24 games.
Scoring may be the biggest part of Erica's game, but it's just one part. Four Hebron players average between seven and eight points, a testament to Erica's team-leading 4.9 assist and team-low 2.2 turnover averages. Her team-high 4.8 stealsaverage speaks volumes about her defensive hustle. And despite getting lost among the invariably bigger bodies on the boards, Erica stillaverages 3.5 rebounds.
"It's hard to contain yourself and not rave about her. How can you hide it?" Greenberg asks. "The kid sees the floor tremendously. She does so many things well and makes so few mistakes. She reeks enthusiasm. It's hard not to love her. She's good enough to contribute to the boys team."
While Erica is unquestionably the team leader, Christy is quite the complement to her. After a slow start that culminated with a scoreless game in Hebron's last loss,to Oakland Mills, Christy has come on strong. Hebron's 13-game streak has coincided with her resurgence.
Christy averages eight pointson 37 percent shooting, 36 percent from three-point range (27 for 76), and has shot 44 percent overall since the Oakland Mills loss Jan. 18. She also averages 4.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.9 steals and ison a pace to break her own school free-throw shooting record (80 percent) for a season. She's currently hitting 82 percent of her foul shots, including an 89 percent clip (31-for-35) since the Oakland Millsloss.
"I don't know if there's another team in the state with twogirls who have made 75 three-pointers. But they do much more than score," Greenberg says. "They do the little things that help us win games, like taking the charge or diving for the ball to keep a possession alive. You're talking about two kids who work as hard on the court as they do in school (where they each maintain a grade point average in the 3.7 range)."
Erica and Christy have been working at the game of basketball together since they were preschoolers. Jim McCauley, their father, who used to be Greenberg's neighbor in Columbia, started a clinic for 6- to 8-year-olds in the Columbia Basketball Association. Christy was 6 at the time. Erica, who tagged along to watch, was 4.
"I remember people used to hold me up in the air and let me shoot, and I was able to make shots then," Erica recalled. "But I've never really thought of myself as a shooter."
Christy recalls, "Ericastarted playing when she was 6, and she's always played in leagues where everyone else was two years older than her. That's why she's so good."
They went on to play three years of traveling ball for the Columbia Challenge in middle school. Their father, who coached them for one season, was the commissioner of the CBA for several years, andremains involved in their basketball careers.
They have been year-round players since middle school -- attending summer camps, fall prep leagues and playing three years of AAU Junior Olympics ball against top-notch competition.
Christy joined Hebron's varsity as a sophomore, when she became a starter on a young team that lost to Glenelgin the first round of the regional playoffs. Last year, while Erica was seeing nearly a dozen therapists trying to overcome a back injuryshe suffered playing in a fall league two weeks before Hebron's practices began, Christy was excelling as the first player off the Hebronbench.