If there is one thing Montgomery County’s best high school girls’ basketball players have in common, it’s likely their competitiveness. That’s probably how they got to the top in the first place. And the thing about super competitive athletes is that they want to win, all the time, at everything.
So, when Thomas S. Wootton High School current junior guards and twin sisters Cece and Ellie Kobylski were assigned to pick teams for a practice game one day last season, coach Maggie Dyer assumed they’d choose from the top.
“They were just sophomores and when they chose their teams, they started with the kids all the way down the line who don’t really get to play as much,” Dyer said. “I didn’t tell either of them to do that, it’s just a testament to who they are. It made those girls feel so good and as a coach it was such a great demonstration of the type of people [Cece and Ellie] are and those are the type of people I want leading my team.”
The Kobylskis are at the heart of what Wootton’s 11th-year coach said is the closest team she has had in a long time. The Patriots, which clinched their first division title since the 2008-09 season with a 24-point win against Montgomery 4A West Division foe Gaithersburg Feb. 7, in turn have truly found their stride at a crucial juncture in the season. After a 2-4 start — granted leading scorer Sheri Addison was sidelined early with an ankle injury — Wootton (14-6) is 11-2 in 2014 with only two regular season games remaining on the schedule.
“You can tell the girls really enjoy playing together, they’re really getting to know each other,” Dyer said. “Against Gaithersburg, that was some of the best basketball we’ve played all season, the girls are really feeling comfortable in their roles and I’m excited [for playoffs]. I feel really good about this year.”
The Kobylskis have come into their own as leaders both on and off the court this year more than ever since being thrown into the proverbial fire known as varsity basketball two years ago as two of three freshmen starters — Addison was the third. Their dynamic on the court — despite sharing similar styles their slightly different strengths complement each other’s perfectly — is one the Patriots can thrive on.
For one, there’s what the Patriots refer to as “twin telepathy.”
“Cece can be going down the court and throw a no-look pass and hit Ellie and we’ll be like, ‘That was the most beautiful twin play,’” Dyer said. “They do have similar tendencies but they always know where each other is on the court and I think every year they’ve gotten better.”
Both sisters are guard oriented in general and can be relied on to sink a shot from just about anywhere on the court. Cece is currently the team’s second leading scorer with 13.8 points following a 27-point performance in Saturday’s 72-46 win against Springbrook; Ellie is third with 12.3 points per game — Dyer said they consistently average similar statistics. But while Ellie possesses more forward-type qualities than her sister, the two agreed Cece is the better ball handler and their ability to find each other leads to some productive combinations.
“[Ellie] has always been a little bit taller than me so she’s always had that push to go into the post area,” Cece said.
Added her sister: “When we’re playing, I can be down low and kick it out or she can drive and I’ll be on the side. Everyone always asks who’s better and we always answer that we’re better at different things.”
The raw talent has always been there for the Kobylskis, who grew up around Wootton basketball with an older sister who played for Dyer and graduated in 2009, Dyer said. These days, they’re combining sheer skill with a more mature perspective of the game it’s helped the Patriots re-establish themselves in the county’s upper echelon.
“I don’t think many players come in as freshmen and start at high level programs,” Dyer said. “They’ve always been very strong at pushing the ball and popping 3-pointers but they’ve also learned to slow it down and execute on offense. They’re very gifted but they’re always working. They’re first to pick up a ball and last in the gym shooting. It’s not a chore to them, they’re passionate about the game. And it’s really cool to coach kids who are so humble. They don’t carry any ego. They’re exactly the kind of kids you want to coach.”