Andrea Day may be small for her position, but her work on the basketball court has yielded tall results.
Day, a 5-foot-9 senior forward at Mount Hebron, is by no means tiny. But whenever the Vikings faced a tough team, Day invariably found herself matched up against a bigger and stronger opponent. It made Hebron coach Dave Greenberg appreciate her skills, especially the defensive kind, even more.
"She (Day) was always outsized when we came up against quality teams," said Greenberg, who last week savored his fifth state championship in the last six years. "But usually, she was able to control the boards and control the interior defense with her defensive positioning. At 5-9, that speaks well for her. She gets as much out of her ability as any kid we've ever had."
This year's Vikings were one of the smaller teams Greenberg has had in his 13 years at Hebron. And likeher teammate, 5-1 point guard Erica McCauley, Day proved skills and solid fundamentals can reduce the relevance of a player's height.
She led the Vikings in rebounding (7.9 a game) for the second straight season, mainly by conducting nightly box-out clinics. Many of her 7.9 points a game (on 43 percent shooting) were products of tenacious offensive rebounding. Probably most important in Greenberg's eyes wasDay's attention to detail in the Vikings' man-to-man defense when she wasn't pulling down rebounds.
Day produced an excellent example of this at a timely moment -- at the recent 2A championship game against Parkside of Wicomico County.
Day's defensive assignment was 6-foot senior center Keisha Camper, considered the top player on the Eastern Shore. Camper was unstoppable in the first half, scoring 17 points and single-handedly keeping Parkside in the game. And in the third period, she scored seven more against Day, as Parkside ran off 13 unanswered points and pulled to within three of Hebron.
But in the fourth quarter with the title on the line, Day made Camper's life miserable in the paint with sticky man-to-man defense. Camper scored just two points in the period, largely because her teammates could not get her the ball inside -- thanks to Day.
"That kid (Camper) could have scored 50 if A.D. wasn't on her. Andrea worked her butt off," said Greenberg, who gave Day high grades for her nine points and nine rebounds in the title game, but pointed to her second-half defense as a huge factor in the outcome. "She does the unheralded things, but they're the difference between winning and losing," he said.
"I likethe challenge of guarding someone real big. I look forward to it," said Day, who also held her own with 12 points and seven rebounds in December against DuVal's 6-3 center Cheri Douglas. Douglas led her Prince George's County team to the 3A title last week.
"I don't know how I've done as well as I have against them. Wide hips and good positioning, I guess," Day added. "The best thing is to get them frustrated when they can't get the ball. They don't like to be pushed around by someone who's little."
Day has had a big senior year, winning two state titles. She was an integral part of the Vikings' state championship volleyball team last fall, earning All-County first-team honors for her job as a hitter in the front row and her defense in the back. She played on the volleyball team for four years.
Her graduation this year also marks the end of an era of sorts for Greenberg, whohas coached three Day sisters -- Tracey, Lisa and Andrea -- and has won the last five state titles with them. Tracey was part of the 1986and 1987 championship teams and made Hebron's Hall of Fame. Lisa played on the undefeated team that won it all in 1988. Andrea helped Hebron win the last two.
"Tracey was probably the best all-around player, because she was several inches taller than Andrea," Greenberg said. "Lisa was the least athletic but worked the hardest. Andrea is the most athletic of the three. When she started, she concentrated on volleyball a little more. I didn't know what kind of effort I'd get out of her this year. Those questions were answered right away."
Basketball has always been a top priority for Day, who has played it for10 years. She played on a year-round basis with prestigious traveling teams like the Columbia Challenge in middle school, and spent a season playing AAU Junior Olympics ball several years ago. Day, who first cracked the Hebron varsity as a sophomore, also played lacrosse herfirst two years at Hebron.