Myers knows her game
When Erin Myers first made the jump from middle school basketball to Osbourn Park, she said she could only shoot layups and couldn’t play defense at all.
But she made the varsity team as a ninth-grader because coaches saw extraordinary athletic ability in her. Now, in her junior season, Myers’ grasp of the game — and the head games within the game — have helped her emerge as a team leader and go-to player, part of the reason why Osbourn Park will take on George Washington on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Northwest Region girls basketball tournament.
“As happens with a lot of kids in a lot of sports,” says Yellow Jackets’ head coach Larry Nemerow, “their athletic ability is there before their understanding of the game. It’s pretty common in high school, in boys and girls. Sometimes it’s a pretty long journey.”
Myers, once so critical of herself that she began to hate basketball, has now found joy in that journey. And she isn’t yet at the end of the road.
“I’m a totally different person on the court,” Myers said. “I’d get really mad at myself when I made a mistake, that’s how I used to be. I’d let one little thing bug me, and it would take me out of the rest of the game.”
“Sometimes she still gets down on herself and takes herself out of a game,” says Nemerow. “But you see that less and less. She’s not a finished product yet. Each week she plays is a week she gets better. It’s neat to see.”
The Yellow Jackets started the season 1-7, with Myers missing a couple of losses due to injury. But since she’s been back at full strength, both physically and mentally, she’s led Osbourn Park in scoring in 10 of their last 13 games, averaging 14.8 points per games over that span.
Nemerow says she’s not only the team’s most accomplished scorer, but now also a top defender. He also says she’s OP’s most improved player, something rare for a top talent and something that rubs off on younger players.
“She’s been the quickest to grasp the finer arts of the game,” he said.
The results are evident.
“She’s got a lot more confidence,” says Erin’s twin brother Jason, a three-sport athlete at Osbourn Park. “She’s started to take more of a leadership role, and she needs to take it. She’s starting to realize that it’s important for her to be calm, because her teammates see how she acts. And when she plays well, OP plays well.”
Classmate Sarah Thompson gives Osbourn Park another double-digit scoring threat, while forwards Kat Rippe and Renee Messier are the team’s only seniors. The Yellow Jackets went 5-1 in Cedar Run District play, securing the regular-season title, but they stumbled against Osbourn in the district tournament opener.
“That was really frustrating,” Myers said of the 52-46 loss, “because I know we are such a better team than that. There’s no reason we should have lost that game.”
Potomac, the Cedar Run champion, will host 10-10 Franklin County at the same time the Yellow Jackets are playing in Danville against the 22-1 Eagles, who lost to eventual champion Princess Anne in last year’s state quarterfinals.
“We’ve got a pretty good idea of what we’re getting into,” said Myers.
She views it as an opportunity for Osbourn Park to prove something.
“I mean, it’s a five-hour drive down,” she said. “It would be a shame to go five hours and not play a good game … it would be really nice to go down there and play a game we deserve to win.”
Eight years old when their parents moved them from Buffalo, N.Y. to Virginia, Jason says he and Erin got into sports because their parents thought it would be a good way for them to get used to their new enviroment and meet some people.
Their neighbors in Buffalo were taken by the sport of hockey, but other sports found their way into each of the twins’ hearts. Jason plays baseball, basketball and is a quarterback on the Yellow Jackets’ football team. Erin also plays softball, and though she claims not to be much of a hitter, the center fielder says she could stand in a sunny outfield all day and shag fly balls. Since the Myers twins often play at different places at the same time, their supportive parents often have to split up to attend their games.
The twins get along great, saying they depend on each other for advice and hang with the same crowd.
Nemerow says Erin has a gift, and could probably be successful at any sport. He also says she’s a bright student. As part of OP’s science specialty programs, the 17-year-old says Oceanography is her favorite current subject.
“She has a big and quick smile,” says Nemerow of Erin. “She’s real popular with the other kids.”
Myers takes the role of being looked up to on the court very seriously, because she remembers looking up to the graduated Christin Bradley, as well as Rippe.
Myers says that if teammates look up to her and see that one of the team’s best players doesn’t believe they can win, they would have no reason to believe either.
That’s one of the biggest differences with these Yellow Jackets.
“I think now, for the first time in several years at Osbourn Park, the girls can walk on the court with the expectation of winning,” Nemerow said.