Teresa Waters figured there would be days like this.
As Waters paced in front of the Oakland Mills girls basketball bench Wednesday night, watching her Scorpions being manhandled by a superior Linganore (Frederick County) team, she could not help but recall the past.
Was it really just nine months ago that the Scorpions played in the Class 3A state championship game? Can these be the same Scorpions who won 23 of 28 games against the county over the past two years, rolling up an overall 41-7 record in the process?
No, this group bears no resemblance to those Scorpions. The top six players from that crew graduated, leaving Waters to depend on a team of returners and first-year varsity players who spent last season watching All-County seniors like Mia Dammen, Stefanie Magro, Christine Copeland and Andrea Romich run the show.
If the Scorpions' 0-2 start is any indicationof what's in store this season, Oakland Mills could be in for a freefall of uncommon proportions.
"I've been there, but I've learned you've got to take the good with the bad. It's a cycle. We're starting from scratch again this year," Waters said.
In their season-opening 51-25 defeat against Annapolis, the Scorpions scored only 10 points in the first half. In Wednesday's 82-39 pounding at Linganore -- which didn't make it through the 3A regional playoffs last year -- theScorpions committed 41 turnovers, were out-rebounded, 37-20, and made only eight of 50 field goal attempts (16 percent).
The Scorpions, who last year pressured opponents into turnovers with machine-like efficiency, were helpless against Linganore's full-court press. They could not cover the Lancers, who hit 48 percent of their shots. Ten of Linganore's 11 players scored, five in double figures.
The Lancers took a 38-15 lead at halftime, then outscored Oakland Mills, 25-5,in the third quarter to blow the game wide open.
"It's really frustrating," said junior Christine Copeland, one of the few players whosaw meaningful playing time last year. After scoring 14 points against Annapolis, Copeland managed just two against Linganore.
"I played with a team last year who knew what to do and did it. You want to live up to that reputation," she added. "It's really tough this year.We're starting over. We've got to work on getting the ball to each other and knowing what each other is going to do."
Waters, in her eighth year at Oakland Mills, has looked at the standings from both sides. In her first year, she took over a struggling team that failed to approach .500. The past two seasons brought the program its greatest fortune, as the Scorpions handled most county opponents with ease.
The Scorpions now are looking at a league schedule that promises to be tough every night, and occasionally brutal.
"I can't wait," Copeland said with a sarcastic laugh.
"I've got to keep a focus forthem and for myself," Waters said. "This is a learning experience, and they know that. These girls basically hung onto the uniforms of the starters last year. These girls still want it, but they don't know how to go about getting it."
She sees signs of improvement.
Against Linganore, for example, point guard Jen Walsh handled the ball well against Linganore's press. She also drove to the basket aggressively, resulting in a team-high 13 points on 13-for-18 foul shooting. And Waters feels certain that players like Copeland and guard Kristen Ostlie (nine points, two three-pointers) will continue to improve.
But it was obvious in the opening minutes against Linganore that theScorpions were overmatched.
"This is only going to help us in thelong run, this year and next year. We need to play against someone better to get better," Waters said.
"The only thing I'm asking fromthem is to try and get better every game. I've got to impress upon them that they're going to get better. I don't want them to be intimidated by anybody. Just get in there and give your all."