Last Sunday at Liberty High School, several dozen high and middle school girls played basketball about as hard as they have ever played it in their lives. But the final scores will never be recorded in tournament or league standings.
Most of the kids probably had no idea what the scores even were.
That's because the real winners won't be decided for months, or maybe not even until next year.
There won't even be real winners until those girls start getting phone calls from colleges offering them spots on their basketball teams, or perhaps scholarships.
These girls were playing at the Elite Recruiting Clinic, a college basketball showcase sponsored by the Maryland lady Hoopmasters.
College coaches and recruiters attend these showcase events to watch basketball players in action. Having numerous players in one place enables them to watch many at once, and makes it a lot easier to evaluate recruits. For the youngsters, it's a chance to land a scholarship and be part of a college basketball team.
Nine Division III colleges, plus Howard County and Dundalk community colleges, were represented, and 38 girls showed up. All but nine were of high school age; the rest were middle school students advised by their Hoopmasters coaches to attend to get a feel for the these events.
Liberty High School forward Rachel Thiem was attending her first showcase.
“A good number of colleges were coming, and it was a good chance to get exposure," the senior said.
Maryland Lady Hoopmasters is a division of the Carroll County-based Maryland Hoopmasters, an AAU travel program for boys and girls.
Howard Community College basketball coach Marv Evans ran the event. It began with a talk in which Evans explained what college coaches expect from their players. Then came an hour of drills in which the girls showed their individual skills. Finally, there were two hours of scrimmage games.
Hardy said some girls tend to be a little nervous at first because they will be closely scrutinized, but they generally overcome it. Samantha Hardy admitted she was a little jittery early on, but didn’t think about it once she got caught up in the games.
An injury limited Natalie Berry strictly to the drills. While her individual skills would be under more scrutiny there than in the hustle and bustle of game action, it didn't concern her.
“I play AAU basketball, and we are always being watched by college coaches,” the Winters Mill High School senior said.
While those scrimmages aren’t important in terms of who won, they can have immense importance to the players themselves.
Berry said Marymount University contacted her for the first time and showed interest. And “Howard Community College asked me to play for them," Berry said.
Liberty sophomore Alex Bull got an email from Wilson University after the showcase.
Hardy felt the event had been an unqualified success, saying that, " For the first time and to have 11 colleges come here, even from out-of-state where it meant a two- to four-four drive despite the weather, I think it was very successful.”
She said Lady Hoopmasters plans to have a showcase like this at least once every year.