By Craig Clary, email@example.com
10:36 PM EST, February 13, 2013
Senior night celebrated the final home regular-season game of five Lansdowne High seniors, but it was the senior leader for visiting Owings Mills (11-9) in the fourth quarter that thwarted a stirring Vikings’ comeback and helped the Eagles pull away for a 59-35 victory.
Owings Mills senior Deja Little scored all seven of her points and grabbed four offensive rebounds after the Vikings (6-13) had cut an 18-point deficit to nine, 38-29, on a basket by Viking senior Channing Long (4 points, 3 rebounds), with 27 seconds left in the third quarter.
“She (Little) is the heart and soul of the team as captain,” Owings Mills coach Matt Fisher said.
Her leadership in the fourth quarter followed strong overall efforts from Brianna Bull (18 points, 6 rebounds, 11 steals), Bre’shae Bell (17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals) and Jordan Gaer (8 points, 10 steals).
The trio’s 25 combined steals and Lansdowne’s 33 turnovers was the difference in the game, but Viking coach Erin Fortney was not unhappy after watching her team fall behind 16-2, after leading 2-0 on Rebecca Needleman’s game-opening basket.
Needleman, Channen Neville, Long and Alice Rowe were senior starters on the special night and senior Callah Delanko was scheduled to start, but she was pulled before the game because she had an exposed earring.
Rowe, who has been a starter all season, finished with eight points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block.
She was most pleased with the block of Eagle guard Bull during the Vikings’ frantic comeback late in the third quarter.
“It was probably one of my favorites, because me and her had been going at it hard the whole game,” Rowe said.
That Lansdowne comeback started midway through the first quarter, thanks to the contributions of sophomores Crystal Njoku and Miranda Tyler who combined for six points and seven rebounds in the final four minutes of the first quarter.
Freshman leading scorer Kamya Renwicks (11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals), Njoku (8 points, 11 rebounds), Tyler (5 rebounds), sophomore Alex Bloom (4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals) and junior Darienne Happel (6 rebounds, 2 blocked shots) helped the Vikings outscore the Eagles 27-22 over the next 19:18.
“That has been a problem for us all year,” Fisher said. “We get off to a good start and we let teams back in the game. We have to put the pedal to the medal and we’ve got to keep it going.”
They stemmed the tide with a pair of free throws by Brianna Forbes with 2.3 seconds that pushed the lead to 40-29.
Forbes added six more points in the fourth quarter to help out Little and the Eagles put the game away — which wasn’t all bad for Viking coach Fortney.
“That was kind of cool at the end, when you could really tell the game was over and I had that break, so I could let the seniors go back it,” Fortney said.
She was also happy to put sophomore Bailey Needleman in to play one last time on the Viking court with her senior older sister.
When the Vikings get to the regional playoffs, Fortney hopes the senior leadership will guide the talented underclassmen.
“I’ve got a good group, so don’t count us out,” Fortney said.
Meanwhile, Fisher just wants to get his Eagles focused for an entire game as the try and defend their regional title.
“They have come a long way from where we started, but we are working on getting them to lock in for four quarters, but they are young,” he said.