It began with Jill Younce. Jamie Beale and Jessie Roy-Harrison followed. Then Tia Richardson entered the picture.
All four had successful high school basketball careers in Howard County. Now, they are an integral part on the women's team at Longwood College in Farmville, Va.
"They're making a major contribution to our program," said Longwood coach Shirley Duncan. "They're all good people and also very good students."
Younce is a senior from Glenelg. Beale and Roy-Harrison are sophomores from Oakland Mills and Wilde Lake, respectively. Richardson is a freshman from Centennial.
The foursome started the first 11 games this season for Longwood, a Division II college that plays in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference. Longwood was 8-5 overall and 4-1 in the conference entering last night's game against Anderson (N.C) College.
"It's funny. Now we're all on the same team," said Roy-Harrison, who has roomed with Beale for both years.
"It's good to get an opportunity to play with other players from the county that I never had a chance to play with," said Beale. "It's fun."
Younce, who plays small forward, leads the team in scoring (17.1) and three-point baskets (39). She also is averaging 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
"Jill was the first player recruited from that area, and she's done exceptionally well," Duncan said. "She really is responsible for helping us recruit players in that area."
Younce, who started all 26 games last season and averaged a team-high 16 points, is currently serving a two-game suspension for violating team rules. She will play again tomorrow at home against Belmont Abbey (N.C.) College.
Beale, who helped Oakland Mills to the Class 1A state title her senior year, is the team's starting point guard. She is averaging 6.9 points, 3.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds.
Beale shared the position last season, but "really improved over the summer," according to Duncan, and earned the starting spot.
Roy-Harrison got little playing time last season, but Longwood needed her to start this season because of injuries.
"She worked really hard over the summer and came back our most improved player," Duncan said. "We had to have her start, and her improvement gave us great minutes. She was able to hold her own. She does a great job boxing out and rebounding, and plays within her capabilities."
Roy-Harrison has come off the bench the last two games because some of the injured players returned. She has played in all 13 games, and is averaging 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds.
The 5-foot-9 Richardson is playing the post, and her desire and intensity have helped her against taller opponents.
"She's really undersized to play underneath, but she does an incredible job," said Duncan. "You cannot deny her."
Richardson, whose aggressive play and tenacity helped Centennial to a county co-title last season, has started all 13 games. She is averaging 7.8 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds. She also has 34 steals.