The parking lot was packed and the full house of fans felt electric at Mount de Sales Friday night when the Sailors played rival Seton Keough in a basketball showdown for the first time in several years.
For the first half, the game didn’t disappoint. But after leading 25-18 at halftime, Seton Keough started the second half with an 11-0 run and pulled away to a 68-37 triumph.
The Gators played without top scorer Kayla Bacon, who had 20 points before injuring her knee the night before in an eight-point loss to Elizabeth Seton, but junior Yasmin Lewis stepped up an replaced her scoring punch.
Lewis sored none of the Gators’ first 11 points in the second half and finished with a game-high 21 points to go along with five rebounds.
“We wanted to win this game really bad. We wanted to show out for our fans and and our family and it was just a big win for us,” said Lewis, who was just cleared to play two days earlier after shoulder surgery.
It didn’t matter that Seton Keough plays in the A Conference and Mount de Sales is in the B Conference of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland league.
In the first quarter Seton Keough built a 7-1 lead before the Sailors rallied and the quarter ended up tied 11-11.
Kaila Jennings (13 points) hit five of the Gators nine free throws in the first quarter as foul trouble mounted for the Sailors.
Allie Berlin came off the bench and scored the Sailors first field goal of the game with 4:32 remaining in the quarter and Madison Burris (9 points) cut the lead to 7-6 just 30 seconds later.
A three-pointer by Bridget Williams (team-high 12 points) gave the Sailors an 11-10 lead with two minutes left before Seton Keough's Brittani Smith tied it on a free throw with 14 seconds left.
Another three-pointer by Burris gave the Sailors a 14-11 lead early in the second quarter, but the Gators answered with a conventional three-point play by Lewis and the game was tied at 14-all.
Two baskets by Lewis and a three pointer off the bench from Sara Minnis pushed the Gators ahead 21-14.
Mount de Sales answered when Lizzy Gower fed Maise Birrane for a basket and Burris made a running hook to cut the deficit to 21-18 with 3:25 left until intermission.
Another three-point play after a drive to the basket from Smith and free throw from Mitchell with no time on the clock ended a 4-0 run that closed the quarter for the Gators.
After scoring six points in the first half, Burris was held to just three in the second by design.
“They were face-guarding Burris and that’s smart, but we were working on some things to get her open, but we wanted her to take control of the ball and then they can’t face-guard her,” said Sailor coach Trish Armstrong of the sophomore guard who averaged 12 points a game and made 58 three-pointers last season for the 12-13 Sailors.
The Gators keyed on her even more in the second half.
“We made adjustments and we tried to get her to see multiple defenders and multiple looks,” said Seton Keough coach Tom Gizzi, who notched his first win as new head coach. “We wanted to minimize her touches because she’s got a great basketball IQ and a knack to score.”
Meanwhile, Lewis was getting great looks for the Gators.
“I tried to support her and get her some places on the court where I know she can score a little more easily and she converted which is great,” Gizzi said.
That’s exactly what happened and the Gators were off an running to a 46-26 lead by the end of the quarter and that eventually stretched to a 31-point win.
Despite the lopsided final score both coaches were fired up by the atmosphere.
“I don’t have a full gut feel for the rivalry, but the players do and they have been trying to share that with me,” said Gizzi, who was a head coach at McDonogh for five season and an assistant at Loyola Maryland University. “I got a very positive experience out of that first hand and Mount de Sales was a very gracious and a very great host. It’s a really healthy rivalry. It’s really nice to see that in high school still because it feels pure.”
“It was a good Friday night high school day,” said Armstrong, who likes playing tougher teams to prepare her squad for the B Conference schedule which begins Saturday, Dec. 5 against St. Mary’s. “They are going to learn against that tough [Seton Keough] defense to get into our sets and that’s what we are going to keep working on. We don’t have that in practice.”
Seton Keough 67
Yasmin Lewis 21, Kaila Jennings 13, Quintessa Williams 12, Brittani Smith 5, Sydney Mitchell 5, Sara Minnis 5, Bailie Grace 3, Summer Fields 2, Camryn Shaw 2.
Mount de Sales 37
Bridget Williams 12, Madison Burris 9, Becca MacDonald 4, Kristen Zaranski 4, Lizzy Gower 2, Maise Birrane 2, Allie Berlin 2, Syndey Skalski 2.