Liberty girls basketball products Wood, Gwathmey shining in college
Thursday, Jan. 3
SO PROUD OF YOU: Former LHS stars and now college players Liz Wood and Jazmon Gwathmey shared a moment with former coach Lauren Milburn Dec. 28 at JMU.
Jazmon Gwathmey and Liz Wood were best friends and star girls basketball players who led Liberty High School to the 2011 Group AA Division 3 title. Their careers crossed paths Friday, Dec. 28, in Harrisonburg when they faced each other as college freshmen.
Gwathmey, playing her first full season for James Madison after a redshirt year, recorded nine points and three rebounds in 23 minutes as the Dukes rolled to an 88-34 win.
Wood, starting as a true freshman just six months after graduating from LHS, had seven points, five rebounds and one assist in 32 minutes.
Gwathey and Wood had such a powerful impact on their school during their illustrious careers that numerous family members, classmates, teammates, teachers and coaches, including principal Roger Lee, journeyed to see their reuniuon on the court.
“They are a source of pride for everyone at the school. They are both two well-respected young ladies. We are just excited for them,” said Lee. “Everyone can see them taking the next step in their future.”
As the pregame shoot-around took place the Gwathmey-Wood supporters found their seats. When the Maine starting lineup was announced a loud cheer arose for Wood.
The LHS contingent raised their voices in gusto when Gwathmey came in off the bench three minutes into the game.
Wood was impressive right away. Six seconds into the game she stole the ball from JMU forward Toia Giggetts and scored Maine’s first points on a layup.
Gwathmey and Wood played several minutes together. While they did not cover each other, there were moments when Gwathmey did shadow her good friend.
Early in the first half, Wood dribbled upcourt as Gwathmey came over to cover her. Gwathmey conceded no ground as Wood passed to forward Danielle Walczak. Gwathmey’s arms shot straight up, causing Woods’ pass to sail out of bounds.
“We are friends, but not on the court. On the court it is straight business between us,” said Gwathmey. “On the court in a game we always had each other’s back. We made each other better.”
Ironically, the meeting came on Wood’s birthday. After the game, the former Eagles shared time with the many visitors waiting outside the locker rooms.
“It’s great to know they came out to support us. I have always known I had their support but it’s good to know they are still behind me,” said Wood.
“It was good to know they didn’t forget about us. Sometimes schools do. It felt really good to know they were there and supporting both sides,” added Gwathmey.
Later Wood made it through a sea of old friends and teammates to finally share a moment with Jazmon.
“Back in high school I looked up to her as a player and a person. I am glad to see her progress in her career and live her dream,” said Wood.