Based on the scores of the games the one common opponent Mount de Sales and Walkersville had, Saturday afternoon’s game appeared to be a mismatch in Walkersville’s favor.
In the opening round of the BBOWS 27th annual Holly & Hoops Holiday Basketball Tournament, Walkersville defeated Dulaney, 74-13.
Earlier this season, Mount de Sales edged Dulaney, 50-48.
But score comparisons don't reveal the intensity Mount de Sales brought to practice before the Walkersville game, and its newly installed 1-3-1 defense was nearly enough to upend the unbeaten Frederick County team (7-0).
Walkersville led, 39-38, but went on a 9-1 run in the final 2:12 to secure a 48-39 victory.
Senior guard Tyra Hughes scored eight of her game-high 18 points, including six free throws, in the final four minutes, to help the Lions pull away.
“We hate to lose, but if there is any kind of good loss this has got to be it,” said Sailor coach Trish Armstrong, whose squad dropped to 3-5 after a tough early schedule.
Walkersville’s 48 points were its lowest in a season where they averaged 70 points a game in the previous six tilts.
The Sailors length in the 1-3-1 puzzled the Lions and forced them into 15 of their 19 turnovers in the first half.
Amanda Donovan was at the top of the key in the defense and she sparked the team with a game-high five steals, to go along with five points, five rebounds and three assists.
Annie Tavera manned the middle in the 1-3-1 and she was flanked by Sammi Gillis and Eve Lukowski, while Amanda Seidl roamed underneath.
“Sammi was brilliant in it because she was on the strong side and she knows when to step in,” Armstrong said.
It was the first time all season the Sailors used it instead of a man-to-man and they got plenty of rehearsal time.
“Coach Dave (assistant Skomba) tested us,” Lukowski said. “That’s all we did in practice was two hours of 1-3-1.”
It paid off and it wasn’t the only thing that did after a subpar performance in a 57-33 loss to Patterson Mill in the first round of the tournament.
“Before the game, we had three goals, crashing the boards, defense and getting back,” Lukowski said.
They came through in all three phases.
Lukowski and Tavera cashed the boards and led the Sailors with eight rebounds each while Gillis garnered six.
Tavera’s inside work in the first quarter staked the Sailors to a 17-10 lead at the break.
She converted seven of eight free throws in the quarter when she scored seven of her team-high 15 points.
“We always try to crash the boards, but it was more than usual,” Tavera said.
Freshman Bridget Williams came off the bench and scored five points, including a three-pointer in the final 1:40 and Gillis added a trey in the quarter.
The Sailors managed just seven field goals in the final three quarters, but led 26-23 at halftime and were tied 32-32 after three quarters.
But Christine Peifer hit a three-pointer 30 seconds into the final period and the Sailors never led again.
Three times they pulled with one point on baskets by Lukowski, Tavera and Donovan, but they couldn’t get over the hump.
Hughes, who will play at the United States Naval Academy, rallied to score all of her 18 points after the first quarter and salted the game with penetration, free throws and defense (8 steals).
“I was definitely conscious of her because I played her in AAU and I knew what she was capable of and we just had to know where she was on defense and not let her get the three or the drive,” Gillis said.
Lana Long (13 points) was the only other Lion in double figures.
The Sailors got seven points each from Lukowski and Gillis and more importantly gained some confidence.
“I think we know what we are capable of,” Lukowski said. “We can hang with these teams.”
“It was good,” Armstrong said. “They know they can play defense and they know they can get back.”