CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Washington's season-opening loss to Spring Valley on Dec. 12 had a considerable silver lining to Patriots girls basketball coach Jamie LaMaster.
"It was a physical basketball game. I don't want to say they were hard fouls. They were going for the ball, but it got a little physical," LaMaster said of the Timberwolves' pressure defense.
"I thought our kids did a good job of maintaining and controlling their emotions. All those kids - Kelli's on the sideline - and I don't have a senior on the floor playing," LaMaster said. "Sarah Miller played a little bit, but other than that we're very young. Tonight you saw five juniors and two sophomores and then Sarah's few minutes were the only time a senior saw the floor."
Senior forward Kelli Jo Harrison did not play for GW (0-1) in the opener. She is awaiting clearance to return to action following summer surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. LaMaster said in late November that Harrison could be back in the lineup by New Year's.
One particular positive that came out of the 61-48 loss to Spring Valley was the play of junior Maria Romeo. She led the Patriots with 13 points and six rebounds after being shut out of the scoring column in the first half.
"This was her first varsity start," LaMaster said. "I thought there were times when I saw her get rattled a little bit but it's going to get better over time. She's capable of doing that."
THE TIE for the preseason No. 2 spot in Class AAA seems to have been settled pretty quickly.
Spring Valley (3-0) has smothered its early season opponents with its pressure defense, athletic frontcourt and the skill of junior Sarah Kelly running the point. The team that eliminated the Timberwolves from the 2013 State Tournament, on the other hand, is off to a rocky start.
Logan (0-2) entered the year tied with Spring Valley behind top-ranked and defending state champion Parkersburg South at No. 2 in the Class AAA preseason poll. The Wildcats, led by Marshall commitment Shayna Gore, have fallen in road games at unranked South Charleston and at Chapmanville in a neutral-site game against five-time defending Class A state champion St. Joseph.
The Irish (4-1) shellacked Logan 75-46 on Saturday evening.
Kelly, a second-team All-State pick last season, acknowledged that polls are little more than conversation starters early in the season, but noted that her team's positive start is a welcome turnaround from her sophomore season.