The Fairfax High girls’ basketball program has gotten progressively better and better under fourth year head coach Marcus Konde. Fans of the Liberty District team hope that trend continues this winter season.
So far, the Rebels have gotten off to a terrific start, winning both of their games at their own Rebels’ Tip-Off jamboree last week. In the three-team, round robin format, Fairfax defeated both Stuart High, 73-16, and Heritage High (Leesburg), 78-43.
Fairfax, this week, was slated to play tougher games at both W.T. Woodson on Tuesday, Dec. 7, and Robinson this Friday night, Dec. 10.
“We’re starting to come together chemistry-wise a little sooner than I expected,” said Konde, in an early season view of his team. “We’re relatively strong at all of our starting positions We played fairly well in our first two games. We’ll have a good test this week.”
Three years ago, in his first season in charge of the Rebels (2007-’08 season), Fairfax went 1-22 in a clear re-building season. That was followed by a 6-16 record the following season and a winning record – 11-9 – last year. The Rebels, despite winning more games than it lost last winter, did not qualify for the 16-team Northern Region playoffs.
Last year’s Fairfax team was led by star player Lauren Burford, the Liberty District Player of the Year who also earned Second Team All-State recognition. Burford, a 6-2 guard, is currently playing college basketball on scholarship at Villanova University in Philadelphia. Burford played only her junior and senior seasons at Fairfax. Prior to that, she attended St. John’s private school in the District.
Konde believes this year’s team, even with Burford gone, can be a factor in the tough Liberty District, which features annual top tier teams such as defending district champion Madison, Langley and South Lakes.
“I feel this year more than [the past three], we have a chance to compete in the district,” he said.
<b>FAIRFAX</b> has two returning starters back from last year – junior Liz McNaughton, a 6-foot-1 inch, guard-forward player who averaged 10 points and eight rebounds per game last year; and senior guard Jordan Sharpe, a fourth year varsity member. Both girls are team co-captains this season.
“Liz is a good all-around player with good shooting range from the outside,” said Konde. “She is good at crashing the boards. She is more vocal this year and a more focal part of the team.”
Konde described Sharpe as a player-coach type of team member because of her solid leadership and crisp all-around play.
“She’s a very good defender and really hustles,” said the coach. “She does a good job on the boards and gets a lot of deflections defensively.”
Another key player back from last year’s squad is Taylor Intermill, a sophomore guard who, as a freshman last year, was a part-time starter at point guard. This season, Intermill will play more at the off-guard position but will also see minutes at the point.
Fairfax’s starting point guard this winter is 5-9 freshman Kylie Murphree, a solid, all-around player with exceptional court savvy and skills. Fairfax assistant coach Rachel Bassford recently remarked to Konde that Murphree reminds her of former Westfield High standout guard Shelby Romine, a two-time Concorde District Player of the Year who excelled as a ball-handler, scorer and defensive player for the Bulldogs the past two years. Bassford worked as a Westfield High assistant coach as part of Pat Deegan’s staff last year.
Murphree, as a ninth grader, will certainly go through some growing pains this season. But she has outstanding potential. She scored 20 points in the win over Heritage.
“She’s extremely fast and really good at both ends of the floor,” said Konde, who watched Murphree play travel ball over the past year. “I’ve yet to see a team double team and stop her. She’s got very good court vision. She’s the real deal.”
Another exceptionally talented newcomer to the Fairfax roster this season is actually a senior. Meredith Mesaris, a 6-2 center, played at local private school Paul VI the past two years and was at Bishop O’Connell as a freshman.
“I think she’s a phenomenal post player,” said Konde, of the newcomer frontcourt player. “She will give a lot of people trouble.”
Mesaris has already accepted a full-ride scholarship to play women’s college basketball at American University (Wash., D.C.) next school year.
Fairfax’s next home game is scheduled for next Tuesday night, Dec. 14 when the Rebels host district opponent Langley. Over the Christmas holiday break, the Rebels will host their own Lady Rebels Winter Classic from Dec. 28-30.