For good reason, Oldfields senior guard Morgan Gause had more nerves than usual going into last Friday’s basketball game against Friends.
Fellow senior D’Naisha Bellamy-Greene, her backcourt mate since their freshmen year, knew exactly how she was feeling and shared some sound advice: “I just told her to play how you always play.”
That’s what Bellamy-Greene did just three days before, when she scored 17 points in the Tigers’ win against Garrison Forest. And then on Friday, Gause ended up with 24 in taking the lead role to beat Friends.
What made those games so nerve-racking and exciting for the two four-year starters?
The two have played together since their Amateur Athletic Union days, starting in fifth grade, and became best friends when they came to Oldfields in eighth grade. As freshmen, they immediately became the team’s backbone.
When each reached the milestone, the games were stopped to recognize their accomplishments and both received a game ball.
“I think it’s very special, because not everybody has that chance to be in high school with somebody that they’ve played with for that many years, so I think that bond helped us,” Gause said. “[We’re] able to feed off each other’s energy and help our teammates get to our common goal, which is winning.”
Oldfields coach Bez Wallace has seen the duo’s chemistry grow each year with an ideal balance to complement one another. Gause is the team’s primary ballhandler, averaging 22.5 points per game this season to go with 3.8 assists and 5.1 steals. Bellamy-Greene is contributing 17 points, 3.5 assists and 3.1 steals with the Tigers, now 6-3 on the season.
“They’re a very dynamic duo in the backcourt,” Wallace said. “[They] both handle the ball pretty well and they have a really good feel for each other on the court. When one is going good, they find a way to feed the hot hand. They’re both explosive, like to attack, are confident players and can shoot the 3. So they kind of do a little bit of everything for us and they definitely make the team go both on offense and defense with their energy and athleticism.”
The pair has accounted for a little more than 70 percent of the team’s points this season. Aware of the responsibility, they have an uncanny sense of what it takes to help produce wins.
“Since we’ve been playing together for so long, we know each other well, so I can see her body language or the way she’s playing and tell whether she’s on or not,” Bellamy-Greene said. “[If she’s off], that means I have to step up more, and the same for her [when I might be off],”
It wasn’t until a couple weeks into the season, when Bellamy-Greene’s grandfather mentioned the two might be approaching the 1,000-point marks, that they took the milestones into account. Bellamy-Greene went into the season with 890 career points and Gause was at 831.
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What the two players and their teammates are thinking about most is winning an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference championship.
Bellamy-Greene and Gause were both quick to state their career highlight came last season when they beat Catholic in the semifinals to send the Tigers to their first championship game. With a strong supporting cast led by forward Savannah Hines (10 rebounds per game) and last year’s title game experience, the Tigers’ finest one-two punch hopes to leave with the program’s first championship.