Offseason work pays off for Brown

STEPHENS CITY — Sherando girls basketball coach Mike Marsh has already seen the change in senior Heidi Brown this season.

The Warriors have played only three games, but Brown, who worked extensively in the weight room this offseason to better prepare her body for her fourth and final hoops season with Sherando’s varsity squad, is clearly a different player in Marsh’s eyes.

“Her conditioning level is better off already,” Marsh said following the Warriors’ 82-21 win over Washington (West Virginia) on Tuesday night. “Last year she started out the year in just a little different physical condition. She’s actually at midseason [form] when it comes to just being in shape right now. She can play all the minutes we need her to play, which last year she couldn’t do that because it’s a different style of ballgame that she was used to. Now she knows what to expect.”

The season didn’t exactly begin the way Sherando had hoped, as the Warriors dropped their first two games before bouncing back with Tuesday night’s blowout win. But Brown has delivered the kind of individual start that Marsh had expected from the four-year starter.

Brown, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week for Nov. 30-Dec. 6, is averaging 21 points per game through the Warriors’ first three games.

“She has come to understand her role,” Marsh said. “Last year I think it took her a while to understand what her role was. She was always a good scorer. I’ve never seen her, even when she was younger, as a power forward or a center even though she’s tall. She’s just a tall shooting guard.

“She runs well and she moves well on the perimeter. She’s willing to attack the rim. That makes her a tough cover at times.”

Brown opened her senior season in strong fashion, as she scored 23 points in Sherando’s opener on Dec. 2 at Martinsburg (West Virginia), a 61-51 loss. The Warriors struggled to shoot the ball in the loss, Marsh said, but Brown began heating up when Sherando was able to get the ball out to her in transition.

“I’m running the floor more, which is good. But I mean, [my teammates] get me the ball so it’s really not anything special,” said Brown, who also had a combined 15 rebounds, six steals and five blocks in Sherando’s first two games last week.

“I think I was just really hyped for the season,” she added. “There were a lot of people there, so it gave me a boost. But I had to stay focused.”

Brown followed that performance by scoring 10 points and snatching up nine rebounds in last Friday’s 55-49 home loss to Broadway.

Brown’s opening week served as a springboard for what was arguably her most successful game on the court for the Warriors on Tuesday. A key component of Sherando’s 61-point win, Brown erupted for a career-high 30 points and added three rebounds and five steals along the way.

Marsh said it’s Brown’s combination of size (she’s 6-feet tall) and shooting ability that makes her a consistent mismatch for opposing defenses.

“She’s a tough cover,” Marsh said. “Most teams don’t have someone who can play on the perimeter. If they put a post on her, she backs out. If they put someone small on her, she can move in. It’s an advantage for us. She definitely causes a mismatch every time we get on the floor because what are you going to do? No one has someone to match up with her, usually.”

Marsh noted after Tuesday’s win that Brown could close in on the coveted 1,000 career points mark near season’s end, should she maintain a scoring average around her current pace. Marsh said Brown’s 30-point effort against Washington likely put her over 700 points with 19 games currently remaining on Sherando’s regular season schedule.

“We’re hoping for a 350 [point] season,” Marsh said of Brown. “A 350 season would put her right at 1,000. That’s 17 points a game. The way she shoots, she should score that much. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com