The postponement from Friday’s Annapolis Area Christian School versus St. Mary’s girls basketball game certainly did not limit the intensity of the contest.
The teams went to battle on Saturday morning in Annapolis and both squads were ready and willing to run and gun. In a seesaw contest made up of numerous runs by each team, the Eagles came out on top, 70-66, in Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference action.
Junior Reniyah Ross posted a game-high 25 points while freshman standout Koi Sims added 16 to the AACS cause. Ross was a force for the Eagles, collecting multiple missed-shot rebounds for successful second-chance opportunities that turned into points for the guests and ultimately decided the outcome.
“I wasn’t happy with the way I’ve been playing, in my opinion, so with it being St. Mary’s and all, I needed to step up for my team,” said Ross, a three-year varsity starter. “The scoring doesn’t matter to me as long as we play well as a team and do well.”
The Eagles came out on fire, scoring 13 points before four minutes had elapsed, building a 13-6 advantage. However, the Saints didn’t allow things to get out of hand early by going on a 10-2 run to take a 16-15 lead with two minutes, 10 seconds left in the opening quarter.
AACS countered with 5-0 burst to end the quarter with a 20-16 lead.
The Eagles added onto the run by outscoring the hosts 10-2 over the first half of the second quarter to take the largest lead of the game at 30-18 with 4:08 to play before halftime.
St. Mary’s stayed persistent and cut the 12-point deficit in half to go into the break behind 35-29. Ross led all scorers with 13 points at intermission, while Elizabeth Gilman had nine points for St. Mary’s (5-2).
Something in Saints’ coach Chuck Miller’s halftime advice and adjustments must have sparked his squad as St. Mary’s hit three of its seven 3-pointers in the third quarter to take a 50-48 lead heading to the fourth quarter. Gilman, Maggie Aumiller and Mackenzie Kaderabek each buried treys, while Kaderabek knotted things at 48 with a field goal with 40 seconds left in the frame.
Whitney Albert gave the Saints their first lead since the opening quarter at 50-48 with a basket with seven ticks left before the end of the quarter.
The action continued to be fast-paced in the fourth as St. Mary’s fell behind by two in the first 30 seconds on a basket by Sims and a pair of free throws by Ross, but the lead went back-and-forth before Bryce Pfundstein, who posted a career-high 10 points, sank a field goal to give St. Mary’s a 59-556 lead with 4:25 to play.
Kerry Kelliher’s free throw a minute later gave St. Mary’s a four-point lead but the Eagles’ dominance on the offensive glass led to two straight possessions of second-chance opportunities that they converted into points to take a 65-64 lead.
From there, Ross made 3-of-4 free throws, Sims converted a pair and Ani Gadsen, a transfer from St. Mary’s and Morgan DeBeary each were successful from the charity stripe to account for the margin of victory.
“Both of these teams played their hearts out today,” AACS coach Jim Domoracki said. “I’ve told the girls that this game is made up of runs and we just have to overcome the opposition’s runs with more runs of our own. We did that today and we beat a very good team that likes to play the same way we play — up-tempo, full-court, man-to-man basketball.”
Despite the loss, Miller was extremely pleased with his team’s tenacity, perseverance and hard work for 32 minutes.
“We couldn’t be more prouder of these girls right now. They have bought into what I have had to offer them,” said Miller, who came out of retirement after coaching at Severn School to lead the Saints. “This team only won eight games the last two seasons and today we lost to a very good, tall and athletic team. We should have no shame in that. We made it known today that we are not a pushover in the conference.”
Gilman’s 13 points led five Saints in double figures, as Kelliher finished with 11 and Pfundstein, Albert and Aumiller provided 10 points apiece. Gadson had nine and DeBeary ended with seven for AACS (6-1).
AACS (6-1) 20 15 132 22 — 70
St. Mary’s (5-2) 16 123 21 16 — 66