Trio holds key to F.S. Key's success Seniors set tone after 2 lost seasons

December 13, 1992|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Contributing Writer

The Francis Scott Key girls basketball team won a total of eight games the past two seasons. Erin Murphey, Shelley Smith and Tina Smith played on both teams and didn't want another season filled with losses.

So, they decided to do something about it.

Murphey and the Smiths (no relation) wanted a special senior season. So they combined to take over the leadership role for the Eagles, and the tri-captains are leading the way as Key shoots for a better season.

Key went 5-17 last season and 3-19 the previous season. Murphey and the Smiths felt a lack of leadership from the upperclassmen hurt. They wanted that leadership in place on this team.

"The team [in the past] didn't want to play together at times," said Murphey, the county's second-leading scorer last season. "We were tired of putting forth all the effort and other people not caring. I wanted everyone to care."

And they made sure that happened early. Last summer, 12 players on the team went to the University of Virginia for a basketball camp. During the Eagles' nearly one-week stay, the players got to know each other better and played very well, winning six of seven games.

Then, before practice began this season, the tri-captains called a meeting and laid down the law to the underclassmen.

"We sat down and we talked about all the goals we had for the younger players," said Shelley Smith. "We set expectations."

Those were simple, she said. They told the younger players to work hard in practice, have a positive attitude, and play their best.

The captains try to keep the players in line during practices and games. They push them to excel and are true coaches on the court.

"You give an idea of what you want to do in practice, [and] they get it done," said Francis Scott Key coach Brian Hollingsworth. "You've got reliable people there."

The captains are realistic. They do not expect to be hanging a Class 1A state title banner at Key after this season. They do expect, however, to find more success than in years past.

"We were tired of losing," said Tina Smith. "It had been a losing [program]. We wanted to change that."

Key began this season in familiar form, losing to Liberty and North Hagerstown. But things were different. The Eagles lost by a total of only 11 points. They could be 2-0. Things could be different.

And the captains are a big reason. They are all friends. Murphey and Shelley Smith are, in fact, best friends. Shelley wears jersey number 32. Erin wears 33. Shelley and Tina Smith met in kindergarten and have gone to school together since first grade.

Murphey is a 5-foot-1 shooting guard who averaged 17 points in her first two games. Tina Smith is a 5-8 power forward who has a 7.5 scoring average while Shelley, the point guard, holds a 7.0 average.

All three drive each other as hard as they drive any one on the team.

"We push each other," said Shelley Smith. "We try to set a good standard for practice. We try to push the younger players. We try not to let them goof off a lot."

Another problem in the past has been internal dissension. Team members did not get along at times and that hurt the Eagles.

"We had a lot of personality conflicts in the past," said Tina Smith. "If you passed the ball to [someone], you weren't sure what would happen."

This year, however, is a different story. The captains said that everyone gets along, and a family atmosphere prevails.

And Hollingsworth is thrilled.

"This is probably the most fun I've had coaching," he said.

To keep the friendly atmosphere going, Hollingsworth has put in some new features. The varsity players now act as big sisters to junior varsity and freshman team members.

The goal for this season is more victories. No matter what happens, however, Murphey and the Smiths would feel they've done the team a service.

"If we [finish] 4-19, that's the way it is," said Murphey. "I'd feel we all did everything we could."

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