The Saint Vincent Pallotti girls basketball team trailed host Roland Park 22-1 after the first quarter of its game on Jan. 12, but the Panthers refused to quit against the Reds, ranked third in the Baltimore Sun poll.
Pallotti (8-7), ranked 12th, was only outscored, 40-36, the rest of the way and they made the final score a respectable, 62-37.
“Defensively, at the start, we really played with some intensity,” said Roland Park coach Scott Buckley, who Reds were coming off a 53-45 loss to No. 2 ranked McDonogh two days earlier. “We wanted to bounce back after Wednesday’s loss, so we did some nice trapping early on and we got some turnovers that led to some easy baskets for us.”
“Today is the first game we did not have a good first half,” Pallotti coach Jocara Knight said. “Every other game this year we’ve had a competitive first half and we keep blowing it up in the second half because we can’t put the ball in the hole.”
Shooting and scoring came easily for Roland Park (14-3) in the first half when they built a 37-7 lead and it allowed them to substitute freely in the second half.
The Reds were led in scoring by Mir McLean (18 points) and Niyah Carpenter (11).
The duo was joined in the scoring column by eight other Reds.
“I think, maybe them coming in here, with us coming off a loss, is probably not the best time to see us, so we played in the first half with a little bit of an edge,” Buckley said.
The bright spots for the Panthers were sophomore Tahlia Stangherlin and freshman Anani Humphrey, who led the way with 13 points each.
Stangherlin, who added 11 rebounds and eight steals, wasn’t satisfied at halftime.
“At halftime, we were down 37-7, but we know we are better than this and we stepped up,” said Stangherlin, who had nine points, six rebounds and two steals in the third quarter, when the Panthers played the Reds even with 15 points each.
The loss was the fourth in five games for the Panthers in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.
Roland Park improved to 3-1 in the conference.
It wasn’t a good week for Pallotti, who fell to St. Frances (8-3), 80-43, on Jan. 10, but Stangherlin likes playing the elite squads.
“It makes you play harder because you know what you are up against and you’ve got to step up,” Stangherlin said. “You’ve got to be different. You’ve got to work harder.”
Coach Knight, in his first season as head coach, doesn’t question his team’s work ethic, but he wants to see better shooting.
“They understand no matter how good the defense is, at the end of the day, it’s who scores more points,” Knight said. “We are holding teams under their season average, but we just can’t score.”
Stangherlin and Humphrey combined for 26 points, but Anii Harris, Jania Hall, Larrin Synder, Laila Whitaker and Cynthia Roberts combined for just 11.
Hall is the team’s leading scorer (19 points per game) and Stangherlin averages nine points and nine rebounds.
But, the roster has only one senior and one junior, along with six sophomores and three freshmen, so the future is bright.
“Pallotti played really hard and they attacked the basket,” Buckley said. “I think they are going to get better. They’ve got some nice young players, but it’s tough to grow up in the A conference.”
Knight, who was an assistant for four years under Josh Pratt until they left in 2013, plans on watching them grow up for a while.
“I was part of the crew that brought the team from the B conference to the A conference and now I’m just here to finish what we started,” Knight said. “I’m in the process of building the team. We are very young.”
That may explain the scoring lapses.
“The one single thing about my team this year is we are having a very hard time putting the ball in the hole, and if we can put the ball in the hole, we will shock a lot of people,” Knight said.
That may not come right away, but help is on the horizon.
“I’ m here to stay and I have a vested interest,” Knight said. “We’ve got some girls coming in next year who can put the ball in the hole, so we are going to continue playing this type of defense, but we are going to get girls that can put the ball in the hole.”