Marriotts Ridge coach Kristen Reier said that her team has been working on playing “backyard basketball.” Having dropped its last four contests entering Wednesday, the Mustangs found that getting back to the basics can produce good results.

“We’ve been working on the fundamentals day in and day out,” said Reier. “Last year we were not a shooting team. We’ve worked on following your shot, shooting from the catch, making sure we’re squaring up and doing all that backyard stuff.”

The practice paid off as shots were falling from inside-out for Marriotts Ridge, which broke open a close game with a big third quarter and ran away with a 49-38 victory over host Centennial.

Jenna Bergquist paced the Mustangs with a 10-point, 12-rebound effort, while Marissa Davey and Victoria Laveck each chipped in 10 points. Sara Downing led the Eagles in scoring with nine points. 

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Clinging to a 23-20 halftime lead, the Marriotts Ridge (2-4, 2-5) players didn’t take any warm-up shots before the start of the third quarter.

They obviously didn’t need to as the Mustangs opened the second half on a 9-1 run to grab a 32-21 advantage. Brooke Sharbaugh jump-started the spurt with two layups and a free throw, Bergquist hit a turnaround jumper and Jenna Kerr leaked out for a fast break layup to cap the run.

Marriotts Ridge outscored Centennial, 15-7, in the third due mostly to points coming on fast break opportunities. The Mustangs were able to beat the Eagles’ full-court press and each time they did, there was a player who leaked behind the defense for an easy layup.

“We were able to realize that their defense was staying up court and one or two people could come back and get a pass down there for an easy layup,” said Laveck, who scored six points in the fourth quarter. “We did really well breaking the press.”

Brittany Anderson knocked down two 3-pointers late in the third for Centennial (1-5, 2-5) to cut into the lead, but off of an Eagles’ missed shot, Bergquist threw a floor length pass to Davey for an uncontested bucket. Zoe Stukenberg followed that with a steal and layup to close the quarter to give Marriotts Ridge an 11-point lead.

“We just didn’t get back on defense and we didn’t finish our layups,” Centennial coach Bobby Macheel said. “I told them in the locker that we’re not going to win many games if we allow teams to get at least five open layups. We have to execute better in order to win ball games and the lucky thing is that’s fixable.”

Bergquist, the Mustangs' leading scorer, believes her team was finally able to put together a complete 32 minutes of basketball.

“This is the best we’ve looked all season,” Bergquist said. “We came out here and really had fun. Our shots finally fell, so that was great. It helps when you score.”  

Marriotts Ridge 49, Centennial 38

MR (2-4, 2-5): Laveck 10, Bergquist 10, Davey 10, Kerr 6, Sharbaugh 6, Taylor 5, Stukenberg 2.

C (1-5, 2-5): Downing 9, Eads 8, B. Anderson 6, M. Anderson 6, A. Mitchell 5, Albornoz 4.  

Other scores:

Atholton 37, Howard 30

The Lions led 28-25 early in the fourth quarter before the host Raiders seized control of the game. Minutes later, Amanda Peterson made back-to-back buckets to push Atholton ahead, 29-28, and it never trailed again.

With less than one minute left in regulation, Sage Mayhew (10 points) made four consecutive free throws to ice the game and give Howard its first loss of the season. Mayhew went 8 for 8 from the charity stripe and Kalere Caldwell made all four of her attempts. As a team, the Raiders were 15 for 20 from the foul line.

“We’ve been stressing free throw shooting,” Atholton coach Julia Reynold said. “We had some clutch shots in the fourth quarter. Our close game against Centennial on Friday gave us the composure to make those shots.”