Roland Park girls basketball pursues A Conference title

Roland Park Country School's Scott Buckley considers it a beautiful thing: He can basically coach the same girls basketball lineup for two consecutive seasons.

The Reds' roster this season contains only one senior, forward Tatyana Carter.

He understands he might not find himself in a situation like this again.

"These are two really good years in row," Buckley said. "We had 11 returning players and next year I will have 11 returning players again. But to be honest with you, I am not really looking to next year."

Who can blame him with how the highly touted Reds have played this season?

The Baltimore Sun ranks Roland Park (11-6, 6-2) as the No. 3 team in the area in its girls high school basketball poll and the team has been near the top of the eight-team Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference standings all season.

Buckley says the Reds are the best team he has coached in a decade.

With a starting lineup of junior forwards Michala Clay and Lindsey Edwards, sophomore guards Jaia Alexander and Ryan Holder and sophomore forward Bailey Andrews, Roland Park has a combination of size, athleticism, shooting ability and chemistry.

"You don't get a team like this very often," Buckley said. "All five starters will be Division I kids. We have crazy talent."

With all of that talent, Buckley said this season is his team's best shot at a championship since Roland Park lost to St. Frances in the final in 2004.

The title game is Feb. 16 at Archbishop Spalding.

"I think this is our year," Buckley said. "I think we have an opportunity to get it done. I think we have a good shot at a championship."

The Reds survived one of its biggest tests of the season recently. They played five games in seven days.

The team won four games in a row, beating St. Frances, Institute of Notre Dame, St. Vincent Pallotti and Seton Keough before losing to Poly.

"We had a really, really tough stretch and we came out of it 4-1," Buckley said. "We played four teams that were ranked in the top 12 of the Sun paper poll. We are getting better every day."

That's good news for Buckley since the postseason tournament is only a few weeks away.

McDonogh could be the team the Reds face for the championship. The Eagles, the top-ranked team in the area with a 14-1 record, are considered the favorite.

The Reds played McDonogh close twice, losing by seven and four points.

"I would say it's the best Roland Park team I have seen in the six years I have been at McDonogh," Eagles coach Brad Rees said. "They are so athletic and have multiple weapons. I think it's hard to stop them."

Buckley agrees because of his team's balanced scoring.

"A lot of teams have tried to figure out who to stop," the coach said. "But on any given night, we have four legitimate scorers. Not too many teams can say that."

The 6-foot-1 Clay leads the Reds in scoring (12.2 points per game) and rebounding (6.9). She'll attend Saint Joseph's University, in Philadelphia, on a basketball scholarship next season.

Edwards (11.6 ppg), Alexander (9.6) and Holder (8.6) also are threats.

It's not only the production of the starters that is pleasing Buckley. He likes the contributions he has received from reserves Carter, Jeydah Johnson and Francesca Whitehurst.

He has been particularly impressed with Carter, a 5-foot-11 power forward.

"She is just a rebounding machine," Buckley said. "If you were to prorate her minutes to that of Michala, she would be getting 15 rebounds a night."

This year, the Reds have high expectations.

"Every year, we want to go to the championship, but this year I really believe we can get there and even win the championship," Clay said.

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