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Villaflor can score, plus much more on the basketball court

Loudoun County junior Natalie Villaflor goes up for a layup during a 2016 playoff game. Villaflor needed just 62 varsity games to surpass 1,000 career points. Coach Derek Fisher says “the main thing you need to know about Natalie is that she loves to play basketball.”—Times-Mirror/Rick Wasser
In the fall of 2014, Natalie Villaflor was a precocious freshman on Loudoun County High School's varsity, running the court alongside a bevy of seniors for one of the area's most consistently successful girls' basketball programs.

By the end of 2016, she was the Conference 21-B reigning Player of the Year, and she'd exceeded the hallowed 1,000-point milestone. Furthermore, she'd become the sort of team leader those upperclassmen were to her, a couple of years ago.

On Dec. 29, in a 71-18 win over C.D. Hylton at Oakton High School's holiday tournament, the Raiders' high-scoring junior swished through the 1,000th point of her career, an achievement reached in just her 62nd high school game.

She became just the 10th player in County's long history to crest the millennium mark for points. With a full season and a half still in front of her, and with a per-game average around 26 points this season, it's a high ceiling for Villaflor.

"The main thing you need to know about Natalie is that she loves to play basketball," said County head coach Derek Fisher, who ushered Villaflor onto the varsity hoops scene. "She enjoys practice, enjoys games, really motivated by her love of the game. It's something that bleeds into the rest of the team."

What Fisher finds most impressive about his versatile 5-foot-11 forward is her relentless devotion to being an all-around player.

"She's never in any way been a specialist," the coach said. "She can play multiple positions, offense, defense. Probably the first thing we noticed was how complete a player she was."

Villaflor frequently fills up the stat sheet with rebounds, steals and assists as well as points.

"I want to be good at all aspects of basketball," Villaflor said. "I feel like it's important to be well-rounded so your team can improve."

Villaflor knows that while fundamental defense and overall court awareness win basketball games, its the gaudy point totals that turn heads. Still, she knows she couldn't score if it were one-on-five.

"I was happy for all of us. It's a teaam achievement as much as an individual one," Villaflor said. "I wouldn't have been able to do it without my teammates, obviously."

Villaflor joked that senior point guard Emily Miller "probably has over 1,000 assists, but they don't stop the game for that."

Choosing hoops

Growing up in Ashburn before moving to Leesburg in elementary school, Villaflor was exposed early to a myriad of sports including soccer, gymnastics and karate. But she developed an affinity for basketball that has never diminished.

"It's so fast-paced, but to be successful you have to play as a team. There's no other way to play it," she said. "It's more rewarding when everyone's passing the ball to get an open shot, than when someone just does it by themselves. That's what drew me to it."

She played in a middle-school house league, then moved into the Amateur Athletic Union program of Fairfax-based Elevate Elite, with which she still plays.

But it's as a Raider that Villaflor has thus far made her biggest mark - and she hopes the best is yet to come for County.

"I think we have an awesome team this year. Everyone balances each other," Villaflor said. "Emily's an amazing point guard and a great leader. Anhai Allen is new this year, but she jumps so high, she's such a great defender. Morgann Harden is a sophomore who has improved so much from last year. Julia Ng is a great leader.

"Everyone bring something to the team that's helped us be successful this year, and I think if we bring that same effort, we'll improve a lot."

Villaflor is engaging in the college recruiting process, and has ideas about coaching whenever her playing days are done.

"I just want to stay with basketball," she said. "I don't want it to end."


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