Olivia Nowlin

Seen here in this file photo from last year, Olivia Nowlin scored a season-high 22 points as the Gladiators defeated Mervo on Saturday. (Jen Rynda / December 28, 2013)

Glenelg senior Olivia Nowlin knew that her Gladiators' squad – winners of just one of their last four outings – needed to get back on track. Behind the speedy guard’s season-high 22 points, including nine on three triples in the third quarter, Glenelg ended 2013 on a positive note with a 52-42 victory over the Mergenthaler Vo-Tech (Mervo) Lady Mustangs on Saturday.

“We’ve been on a bad streak, so it was good to come back with a win,” said Nowlin. “Coach basically told us at halftime that we needed redemption from yesterday. He said if we shut them out in the third quarter, then the game would be pretty much over.”

Coach Chris Beil wanted to take it to the Mustangs (4-2) in the third quarter. His request was met with open arms by his girls, who held the opposition to zero points in those eight minutes.

Nowlin’s flurry of shots beyond the arc in that period ignited a struggling Gladiators (4-2, 5-3) team that had let the opposing Mustangs stay in contention up until that point. Glenelg’s newfound surging offense swelled its lead to a 10-point advantage heading into the final eight minutes of the Lady Millers Holiday Tournament consolation game.

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“She put the team on her back and shot well, “ said Beil of Nowlin. “Our mindset (as a team) was to pick up our own intensity level and think one pass ahead. We played good overall team defense and people came off the bench and contributed.”

While Nowlin hit five three’s in the game, the supporting cast around her picked up the pieces whenever there was a threat of a Mustangs run. Senior forward Lauren Wright was a force in the paint, finishing many of her chances in a solid 10-point performance. Megan Taylor and Miranda Mattis each contributed six points to complement the Gladiators' leading scorers as well.

Freshman Jaida Jackson collected just four points for the Mustangs, but her 11 rebounds often created second and third chances for her team. Overall, Mervo out-rebounded the Gladiators 31-13 on the day.

In the later stages of the game, a multitude of fouls sent Glenelg shooters to the line on nine separate occasions looking to extend the team’s lead. The Gladiators shot 11 for 17 from the charity stripe in that quarter. Nowlin, who went to the line with just 26 seconds left, connected on one of two chances. Moments later, in what would prove to be the final scoring play of the day, she received an inbounds pass and converted on an easy running layup to secure her team’s 10-point victory.

“It’s a great feeling to end the year with a win, and now we have to focus on River Hill on Friday and just take care of business,” Beil said.

Poolesville 49, Oakland Mills 30

Thanks to a simple, yet tactically sound full court press that gave the opposition fits all night, the Poolesville Falcons had everything going for them in the Oakland Mills Holiday Tournament Championship on Saturday.

The visitors hit four 3-pointers, and tournament MVP Whitney Carmack scored 13 points, powering the Falcons over the home Scorpions, 49-30.

“I was pleased defensively. To hold a team to 30 points is really good,” said coach Fred Swick of his 8-0 Falcons. “Our press is not really a ‘go after it’ style. It’s more about containment.”

In all aspects of the game, that’s exactly what Poolesville did. Holding each Scorpion to single digit scores, the Falcons took advantage of importune turnovers and forced shots to create transition points.

Oakland Mills coach Christina Hewitt said ultimately it was self-control that separated the two squads.

“We lacked discipline,” the she said bluntly. “We just didn’t communicate and we didn’t come to play.”

Throughout the early stages of the game, it was clear that the Falcons’ press needed to be addressed by the Oakland Mills bench. “What did we work on yesterday?” Hewitt could be heard shouting to her players from the sideline.

It was apparent that the home team was never quite right from the start, especially with the lack of presence down low. In the second quarter, Poolesville wrangled six rebounds to Oakland Mills’ two. That ability to control the boards resulted in a 14-9 scoring differential in favor of the Falcons – a lead only would only grow.

“The offensive rebounding certainly killed us,” said Hewitt. “We weren’t boxing out, and they were getting those quick and easy rebounds and putting them back up.”

Karigan Awkward led the Scorpions (2-4, 3-5) with nine points. Lauren Thompson notched seven scores, and Tori Diggs wracked up six on two 3-pointers.