Sibling success: Ashleys lead Mervo to 12-1 start

Girls basketball: The Ashley sisters share scoring, passing and leadership roles for Mervo, and the result is the 20th-ranked Mustangs' best season at this point.

January 28, 2001|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

The first time Erin Ashley outscored older sister Tobie in a Mervo girls basketball game, coach Nancy Havranek was a little concerned.

"I wasn't sure how Tobie was going to take that," Havranek said, "because she was always the one who scored."

Havranek needn't have worried.

"At first, it was hard," Tobie said, "because I was used to scoring 18 or 25 points, but now I sometimes score seven or 10 points and my sister has 33. I'm not mad. As long as we have the W, I don't care if she scores 89 points."

With that attitude and the shift to a more team-oriented offense that spreads beyond the backcourt sister duo, the No. 20-ranked Mustangs (12-1) are enjoying their best season ever.

Unbeaten in the Baltimore City league, they have emerged as contenders for the city title, although their toughest competition is yet to come - No. 6 Dunbar on Feb. 6 and No. 12 Western on Feb. 9.

"They usually schedule those two games at the beginning," Tobie said, "and we take our two L's and go on about our business. But this year, they're at the end and we'll be ready."

The Mustangs likely will have to beat both Dunbar and Western to win the city title. To reach their other goal - the state Class 4A final four - they again would have to beat Western, which has won seven of the past eight Class 4A North regional titles.

The way the Mustangs are playing, they have a chance to pull an upset or two.

"Absolutely, if they can play their type of game," City coach George Petrides said. "They match up well with both of them."

The Mustangs' game is a mixture of Tobie hitting from the outside, Erin driving to the basket and both sisters feeding 5-foot-11 center Camella Boyd and 5-10 forward Patrice Faison, who handle much of the rebounding. They'll also be helped when injured 5-7 guard Shapre Proctor returns to the lineup soon.

"The main thing is that we want to win more, and we work as a team," Boyd said. "Erin and Tobie can get the ball to me, which helps our all-around game."

Tobie, a 5-7 senior guard, doesn't have to carry the load anymore, and her statistics reflect that. Her scoring average is down from 16.5 last season to 14.2, but her assists are up to five a game.

Most of the time, Tobie draws so much attention from opponents that it frees her teammates to score. She had 15 assists in one game this season.

"In the past," Havranek said, "to get Tobie to give up the ball and get someone else to shoot, it was like, `They can't catch' or `They can't shoot.' She'd rather do it herself. She has evolved as a player because of her confidence in the other players. She's more willing to give it up. She doesn't have to be the only scorer."

Still, Tobie, who scored her career-high 39 as a freshman, can roll up big numbers. She scored her 1,000th point in last season's finale and now has 1,195, which, Havranek said, is believed to be the most in school history.

Monday, Tobie scored 20 in a 60-35 win over Northern. She hit 29 in a 71-46 win at City on Tuesday.

"We tried a box-and-one on her," Petrides said, "and we couldn't stop them because [Erin] was able to score and move the ball. I'll be glad when [Tobie] graduates. When she's hot, there's no stopping her. She hit seven three-pointers against us."

Havranek began to see the change in her team late last season when Erin emerged as a scorer as well as a passer. She had 14, 21 and 17 points in the final three games, then kept up the pace this season.

The 5-6 junior guard hit a career-high 33 points in a 68-46 win at Walbrook on Jan. 17 and has boosted her scoring average from 10.8 last season to 16. She also averages 5.1 assists.

Erin's style has provided the perfect complement to Tobie's.

"They're two entirely different players," Havranek said. "Erin's the one who flashes and goes to the basket. Tobie sets up on the outside. She can put the ball on the floor and go to the basket, but that's not what she likes to do the best. Now, she's finally got somebody who can get her the ball."

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