The Francis Scott Key Eagles were just coming off a tough region semifinal loss to Milford Mill last season when Shelley Smith made a plea to her longtime backcourt mate Erin Murphey.
"We were in the locker room after that loss and I told Erin she had to come to Western Maryland so we could play together again," she said.
Murphey and Smith were the starting backcourt for two-plus seasons at Key. By their senior year, they were the best duo in the county.
Murphey, The Baltimore Sun's 1992-93 Player of the Year in Carroll, finished her high school career as Key's all-time leading scorer with 976 points and Smith was the perfect complement. Together they combined to score 656 of the Eagles' 1,100 points last year.
Now, Murphey and Smith are making a smooth transition from the high school level to college and Western Maryland coach Becky Martin couldn't be happier they chose to stay close to home.
"Both are progressing very nicely. It's really a big transition from high school to college," Martin said.
"They are working very hard and it's exciting watching each come into their own. We've had the finest freshmen class in years and we're very excited about the future. They are two big reasons why."
Five games into the season, Murphey worked her way into the Green Terrors' starting lineup at the point and Smith has been a big burst of energy off the bench. Both have the versatility to play either guard positions for Martin.
Both players agree the biggest difference from high school play to college is the stronger competition from game to game.
"It took me awhile to get comfortable at this level and I'm just now getting the confidence up to play the way I played in high school," Smith said.
"The fact is everyone is a player and the caliber of play is just so much higher."
Murphey is averaging 9.8 points a game with 3.1 rebounds. She leads the team in assists (51), steals (42) and field-goal percentage (.500).
"Erin is an excellent athlete who has great speed and an uncanny sense of being able to score," Martin said.
"She handles the ball very well, can penetrate or score from the outside. Playing point guard, she's learning by her mistakes and success every time she goes out on the court."
Smith enjoyed a career-high 10 points in a loss against Dickinson and is averaging 3.6 points and 1.4 rebounds a game. Her all-out hustle, aggressive defense and intensity give the Green Terrors a big boost when she comes off the bench.
"She's an instant spark plug when we put her on the court," Martin said.
"With Shelley, it's 100 percent all the time and she's everywhere on the court. She's seeing more and more time and is a good passer who's also been scoring some critical points for us."
At 10-7, the Green Terrors already have surpassed their win output of last season when they finished 9-15.
The strong freshmen class is a big reason. Along with Murphey and Smith, the Green Terrors also have two promising freshmen in Sandi DeJager and Heidi Snyder. DeJager, a small forward, is second on the team in scoring behind senior Sue Head (Westminster High grad). Snyder, a 6-4 center, leads the Centennial Conference in blocked shots coming off the bench and is getting better and better.
"The team has really made us feel comfortable," Murphey said.
"We've come in and played key roles and they haven't made us feel like freshmen. Being part of a team and everyone getting along so well has made it a lot easier and a lot more fun."