By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Katelyn Poston doesn't get nervous.
For the last four years the Central senior has had a knack for coming up with clutch plays, whenever her team needed it. Whether it was a game-tying 3-pointer in a double-overtime win over East Rockingham as a freshman, a game-winning block early this season against Stonewall Jackson or making the two biggest free throws of her career to help send the Falcons to the state tournament this year.
"I never get nervous. I've never gotten nervous for basketball games or when we're in tight positions -- that's just how I am," Poston said. "I try to stay as calm as I can. I get excited or I get pumped up, but whenever it comes to nerves or like when I get to the free-throw line, I just try to focus on what I practice and what I've been doing and not really change my game."
Poston's abilty to make plays for her team is just one of the reasons she's The Northern Virginia Daily's 2013-14 Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
No game epitomized Poston's nerves of steel, her leadership or competitiveness like the 3A East regional semifinals against John Marshall this season. With a state berth on the line, Poston had one of the most impressive performances of her career.
A basket by John Marshall put the Justices up by a point with five seconds left, and they were headed to the free-throw line for an and-one. However, a technical foul on John Marshall coach Travis Richardson gave Central a chance for free throws of its own. As the teams headed to their benches during a timeout, Central assistant coach Sarah DiNardo saw freshman Tamra Scott struggling emotionally, and told Poston to talk to her. Poston went over to her and calmed her down and also assured her they were going to win the game.
Central coach Mallory Skarupa said she knew at that moment that the Falcons were going to be OK, just by the look in Poston's eyes.
"You see the look, you see the fire and intensity in the eyes and it's like, 'We've got this. She's got it,"' Skarupa said.
Poston perfectly swished both free throws to send the game to overtime. Then she took over the game in overtime, scoring the last seven points of the game, including two steals, more big free throws and a big rebound to send the Falcons to the state tournament.
The Falcons would lose to eventual Class 3A state champion Spotswood in the state semifinals, but Poston said she couldn't have asked for a better senior season.
"I think even though we weren't able to bring home a state championship, we definitely still rank up there with the team that was able to do that back in 1996, because nobody was able to accomplish that in such a long time," Poston said. "We know that we set a new bar for everybody in the school, not only for basketball, but for all sports knowing that even though we are from a small school we can still make that huge jump, and make it as far as we want if we just set our mind to it."
The season started off with a great achievement for Poston as she broke the school record for points, which had been held by DiNardo.
Poston broke the record on Dec. 11 against Manassas Park, as she hit a 3-pointer and was fouled. She made the foul shot to complete a rare four-point play.
"It was such a memorable thing, and to break it on an and-1 3-[pointer] was just awesome," Poston said. "I still watch the video sometimes in amazement I was able to accomplish such a big thing, and break coach DiNardo's record. It made it that much better that I was able to break somebody's record that I knew, and interacted with and I actually had a relationship with."
Poston said she couldn't have broken the record or done many of her other accomplishments without the help of her dad. She said the night before a game her dad shoots with her in the backyard and helps her with her shot.
"My coaches obviously helped me out in the gym and everything, but my dad just helped me in the mental aspect of the game," Poston said. "He's worked with me since I was younger, and he's definitely the reason I was able to score so many points. And he was the one who was able to help me perfect my shot and get to the point that I was able to play at such a strong level."
Poston averaged 19.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 2.6 assists per game this season. She also led the area by shooting 77.1 percent from the foul line. Poston was also named first team all-state by both the Virginia High School Coaches Association and the Virginia High School League.
Skarupa said Poston definitely left her mark on the Central girls basketball program.
"There were moments where I just have mental pictures in my head with her hitting a 3-[pointer]," Skarupa said. "She was just fired up, and she knew it was going in no matter what and just turned around and doing the fist pump to the chest. Getting everyone pumped up. That's what I remember about her, and she's just a great kid. Off the court, she's always all smiles and, 'Hey coach Skarupa what's going on, how are you doing' -- very personable.
"She's been Central basketball for the last four years, pretty much."
Poston said she's enjoyed playing basketball for the last four years at Central.
"I think my basketball career here at Central, I made the best of it," Poston said. "I did a great job, I feel, and just was surrounded by the best people I could be surrounded by -- coaches, teammates, community, administrators. School-wise, I couldn't ask for a better place to spend four years to play basketball."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd