Coming off a loss earlier in the week, Atholton entered Thursday night’s girls basketball matchup with Glenelg needing a quality win before the postseason grind.
Facing a significant disadvantage in size against the visitors, the Raiders responded with what senior Margaret Tatum called an inspired team performance. That desire paid off.
The Raiders (13-6, 15-6) owned the boards in the first half, and got quality minutes from the bench in the second, as they rolled to a 56-41 victory in their final home game of the regular season.
“That shows heart, commitment and dedication,” said Margaret Tatum of her team’s ability to play well for the entire contest. “We have to take it one game at a time, but today we got some good team confidence.”
Tatum notched eight points, while freshman Francesca Venegas recorded a team-high 12 for Atholton, which controlled the game’s tempo for much of the way. Sage Mayhew added 11 points and eight rebounds.
Though Ally Forejt led her squad with 14 points, the Gladiators (7-12, 8-14) couldn’t avoid back-to-back double-digit losses in as many days.
“We let them push us around in the first half,” said coach Chris Beil, whose squad was out-rebounded 26-10 in the first 16 minutes of play.
Armed with a comfortable lead for much of the game, Atholton coach Julia Reynold took advantage of an opportunity to get her bench some time on the court. With the playoffs fast approaching, that extra in-game experience was crucial for a team with high hopes in March.
Working on the “little things” benefitted the home squad. Along with the team’s ability to rebound, Chelsea Mitchell forced multiple turnovers before the Glenelg offense could find rhythm, Kalere Caldwell perfected her mid-range jumper and the team as a whole worked together as a unit.
“Our pressure really helped us get some transition points,” said Reynold. “Without the size, we really had to focus. When you face tough teams, you’re going to have to rebound well. Whether you’re a point guard, or a forward, everyone needs to find someone to box out.”
Atholton’s lead was never in danger as the minutes ticked away in the game’s closing stages. Still, Beil was impressed with the way his girls played battled against the adversity.
“Unfortunately, some of the baskets didn’t fall, but the whole entire team showed fire and didn’t let the game get away from them,” he added.
Heading into the playoffs, Tatum was certain of her team’s lofty plans.
“It’s states or bust,” she said, bluntly, adding a firm “I’m serious” to prove her point.
If her team executes and moves the ball with the same effectiveness they did against the Gladiators, Tatum has no doubt that big things are in the near future.
“Everything came together for us in this game,” she said.
Atholton 56, Glenelg 41
Ath: Francesca Venegas 12, Sage Mayhew 11, Chelsea Mitchell 8, Margaret Tatum 8, Kalere Caldwell 6, Becca Weinberg 3, Udoka Oji 2, Megan Hart 2, Danielle Dolbow 2, Caitlyn Burmester 2.
Glen: Ally Forejt 14, Lauren Wright 9, Megan Taylor 5, McKenzie Dailey 5, Julia Wolfrey 4, Olivia Nowlin 2, Miranda Mattis 2.
Half: 29-13, Raiders.