Set to face Franklin High School in the first round of the Woodlawn Warriors Tournament, Long Reach girls basketball coach Kelli Cofield said her team relished the chance to play games outside of Howard County.
Getting the chance to see how the Lightning stacked up against other competition is important for the coach, especially with the playoffs right around the corner. On Thursday, the team found that there is still work to be done.
Despite guards Jaya Green and Imani Sanders each registering 10 points for the Lightning (2-4 county, 3-5 overall), the Indians bumped Cofield’s squad, 43-30.
“Every game matters in terms of the fact that we’re just trying to get better,” the Lighting coach said. “We don’t normally see teams like Franklin in Howard County, but when we go to the playoffs, we don’t play against our normal teams. This tournament is always a good representation of what we see in the playoffs and it gives us some good things to work on.”
Franklin, a team well-equipped with scorers from the outside, as well as in the paint, was led by Jordan McDowell and Blaire Ross, who each notched 11 points.
McDowell – whose 6’2 frame out-matched the entire Lightning roster – controlled the territory down low with 11 rebounds. Her stifling defense and ability to collect missed shots complemented McDowell’s nine points from beyond the arc nicely.
There aren’t many girls in Howard County with quite the same height as McDowell’s, but Cofield said her talent most closely mirrored that of Reservoir’s Zelor Massaquoi. And, though they don’t have one specific player that exhibits a similar style, the coach said the collective efforts of Centennial and Mt. Hebron’s top rebounders reminded her of Thursday’s opposing center as well.
Early in the opening quarter, the Indians played a tough defense that fooled Long Reach into turnovers and rushed shots.
Before halftime, nursing a deficit that had reached 11-3, the Lightning sprung into action, outscoring Franklin to pull within three at the half.
“They worked really hard to bring it back, and our zone match-ups seemed to work really well,” said Cofield.
Unfortunately for the purple and black, that comeback attempt went for naught, as a third quarter surge powered by back-to-back McDowell triples gave the Indians control once again.
By the final eight minutes, any run that the Lightning would conjure was squashed by inopportune fouls, as the Indians shot six of eight from the line in the fourth quarter alone.
Long Reach has a quick turnaround, as it will return to Woodlawn High School to face Eastern Tech at 9:30 a.m. Friday in what will be another chance for Cofield’s team to work out the kinks.
“Everyone makes the playoffs,” she said. “We’re just trying to correct our mistakes in time for February.”
Franklin 43, Long Reach 30
LR (2-4 county, 3-5 overall): Imani Sanders 10, Jeily Mata 2, Jaya Green 10, Alana Ratliffe 3, Gillian Engelbrecht 3, Katelyn Peterson 2
Franklin: Kendra Isaacs 7, Jordan McDowell 11, Mara Izzard 5, Cara Murphy 4, Ashley Downs 3, Sara Franklin 2, Blaire Ross 11
Half: 17-14, Indians.
Around the county:
Centennial struggles early, falters against Westminster
All season long, the signature behind the early success of Centennial girls basketball has been a defense-first attitude.
But, in the opening round of the North Carroll Holiday Hoops Tournament against Westminster Thursday, the Eagles seemed to forget that mindset.
After giving up 37 points in the first half alone, Centennial (5-1 county, 5-3 overall) couldn’t recover, as the Owls pulled away with a 59-43 victory.
“Our defense just wasn’t there in the first half,” said coach Bobby Macheel after the game. “That’s what we need to live by. We’re a defensive team.”
Though the Eagles were without their leading scorer in Anna Mitchell, who was out of town for the holiday, Macheel said the reasoning behind the loss went deeper.
“We’ve just been having terrible starts to games,” he said.
Mary Anderson led her team with 11 points, while Alicia Hsieh, Brittany Anderson and Kimmy Eads all added seven.
In the first half, everything went the Owls’ way.
Centennial could hardly get its offense in motion, but ultimately it was a lack of shots falling early that created such an immense deficit.
For the Owls, Alyssa Pumputis led all scores with 14 points. Jonyae Curry (13), Shannon Pumputis (10) and Lara Bachman (9) also contributed in a winning effort as well.
Powers and Alyssa Pumputis also added six rebounds each, while Shannon Pumputis had four.
In the third quarter, the Eagles gained a bit of momentum, and their once-silent defense woke up, allowing only five points. Following a nifty Alicia Hsieh half court shot to head into the fourth quarter, it looked as though Centennial – down by 12 – could get back in contention.
“We just couldn’t take advantage of that, and at that point it was too late,” Macheel said.
Even with missed contested shots, the Eagles had opportunities to put points on the board with the clock stopped as well. In 32 chances at the foul line, the Eagles as a team converted just 17 points.
“Especially when we were making a push there, (shooting better from the line) could have definitely helped,” he added.
Centennial will play St. Paul’s on Friday at 10 a.m. at North Carroll High School in the team’s final game of the tournament.
Westminster 59, Centennial 43
Cen (5-1 county, 5-3 overall): Sammie Albornoz 5, Sara Downing 5, Mary Anderson – 11, Alicia Hsieh 7, Brittany Anderson 7, Kimmy Eads 7.
Westminster: Alyssa Pumputis 14, Jonyae Curry 13, Shannon Pumputis 10, Lara Bachman 9, Jayla Powers 7, Arianna Cotton 2, Brooke Hillman 2, Mindy Phillips 2.
Half: 37-13, Owls.
Atholton 83, Don Bosco 2
Atholton (4-2 county, 5-2 overall): Chelsea Mitchell 15, Caitlyn Burmester 10, Megan Hart 10, Becca Weinberg 7, Kalere Caldwell 7, Ryan Jones 6, Sage Mayhew 6, Amanda Peterson 6, Francesga Venegas 6, Udoka Oji 4, Kayla Morton 4, Margaret Tatum 2.
Half: 47-0, Ath.
Wilde Lake 54, Springbrook 39