Walcott graduates to leadership role New goal: After three straight losing seasons, the Raiders senior is excited about Atholton's shot at a .500 season.

February 18, 1996|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Aisha Walcott has seen a lot in her four years on Atholton's girls varsity basketball team. Players have quit. A coach has resigned.

And, of course, there are the losses.

The Raiders are 9-10 overall and 4-9 in the league. Those are the most wins in a season -- overall and league -- that Atholton has had in Walcott's four years.

"To finish .500 would be great," said Walcott, whose Raiders play host to Centennial in the regular-season finale Tuesday.

Amid the losses, Walcott has gone from a struggling freshman to Atholton's seventh all-time scorer and eighth all-time rebounder.

"It's been a good learning experience, on and off the court," said the 5-foot-7 guard who is averaging 17 points.

The learning experience began right away. She thought about quitting her freshman season.

"I fought through it," she said. "It wasn't what I expected it to be. But you're not going to get anything if you quit. I love basketball, and I wasn't going to give it up."

After a season of coming off the bench, Walcott started most of her sophomore year. When a number of players quit before her junior season, Walcott's role increased.

"It brought about a big change," said Walcott, who averaged 13 points last year. "I was able to handle the ball more and have more responsibility."

Paul Eckert, who coached Walcott her first three seasons, resigned before this season started and was replaced by athletic director Don Van Deusen. The Raiders began with a 6-1 record, including 1-0 in the league, and a Top 20 ranking.

But then an overtime loss at Mount Hebron began a string of six straight losses. It stopped with an overtime win at Oakland Mills.

"I know we could have won a lot more games," said Walcott, whose team lost to league-leading Wilde Lake by five points both games. "It isn't that we haven't tried. We've been close.

"I'm not happy when we lose. But if I've played my best and the team has played its hardest, it doesn't bother me as much. Some teams are just better."

Walcott is a versatile player.

"She's a good shot, is very aggressive on the offense boards and is an excellent ballhandler," said Van Deusen.

And an excellent leader.

"The other girls look up to her," Van Deusen said. "She's been a good captain because she's not afraid to take some responsibility."

Her expectations are high, and she has been known to yell at her teammates. But Walcott is hardest on herself.

"She gets disappointed, but she won't get down on herself," said sophomore teammate Sara Pierson. "She just works harder."

Her hard work -- and that of the team -- was rewarded last Thursday when the Raiders visited Hammond and beat the two-time defending state Class 2A champions, 34-22. It was the first time Walcott had beaten the Golden Bears.

"It gives [us] a lot of confidence knowing we can beat a state championship team," said Walcott.

Hammond had beaten Atholton by 22 points earlier this season.

"We haven't reached our potential yet, and the open playoffs gives us another opportunity. I think we can do well in the playoffs."

Walcott has a 3.4 grade-point average and wants to study computer science in college. She is a member of Atholton's Math Engineering Science Achievement group and also is in the Shakespeare troupe that will perform at Folger's Theatre in Washington.

And although she doesn't show it on the basketball court, Walcott is a clown. Her peers voted her senior class crown.

"She's a fun person to be with because she's always kidding around with you," said Pierson.

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