After Reservoir’s early-season loss to River Hill more than three weeks ago, Gators girls basketball coach Kyle Sullivan proposed a challenge to his team to lay everything on the line for the rest of the year.
After notching her fourth consecutive double-double as her team defeated visiting Glenelg, 53-43 on Monday, it's clear Zelor Massaquoi received that message loud and clear.
“After that River Hill game, she took it upon herself to lead by example,” said Sullivan of the senior forward. “Since then, she’s had a double-double every game. She’s playing to her ability, and she wants to learn how to do new things. She’s just a great player.”
Massaquoi notched a career-high 32 points to go along with 14 rebounds for her squad in the win. On the season, she leads her team in both categories.
“Last year, I wasn’t interested in the process of getting better. I just wanted to be better right away,” said the senior forward. “Now, more than ever, I love going to the gym. I really want to get better, and I’m pushing myself. I’m doing what I have to do in practice to get there.”
Monday’s county clash was the first time the Gators (5-2) set foot on the court in a game setting since Dec. 18. Unlike most Howard County schools, Sullivan’s team chose to stay home and practice rather than play in a holiday tournament. Add in an inopportune snow day, and the Gators were forced to stay out of the gym for much longer than the coach would have liked.
“You can expect a little inconsistency and craziness after that,” Sullivan said of his team’s play after the long break. And, in the early stages of the game, his team showed just that.
Down 12-7 after the first quarter, the home team needed a spark before the game got out of hand. With Massaquoi patrolling the paint, registering 11 points and three rebounds in those eight minutes alone, the Gators outscored the Gladiators 19-4 heading into the half.
In the third quarter, Glenelg (4-4 county, 5-4 overall) battled right back — and briefly grabbed the lead — before Reservoir took control again.
“The key was hustling. Our girls wanted to prove that we could take it up another level,” said Gladiators coach Chris Beil, whose squad made adjustments with its press that caused some problems for the home team.
A few forced turnovers, as well as surging offensive performances from Olivia Nowlin (11 points) Julia Wolfrey (10) and Ally Forejt (9) kept the visitors within striking distance until the fourth quarter.
But, as the final eight minutes ticked off the clock, a 17-8 scoring run in the Gators’ favor put the game away. With less than 10 seconds left, Massaquoi battled out another defensive rebound and was quickly fouled to stop the clock.
Feeling most comfortable with the ball in her hands at the end of the game, the senior drained both her free throws from the line to give her team the 10-point victory.
Though it was close for a stretch, Sullivan said he was pleased with his team’s ability to handle adversity. Since that loss to the Hawks, the Gators are 3-1, losing only to undefeated Howard.
“Every game is important. We started off the season OK, but then we knocked ourselves down,” he said. “I told them that every game from here on out, we have to climb our way back to the top … and have nothing left at the end of every game. Chances are, if that happens, we’ll be on top.”
Reservoir 53, Glenelg 43
Res: Massaquoi 32, Danaysha Turner 10, Blair Bonner 4, Keri Rager 3, Mary Dudzinski 2, Tara Thompson 2.
Glen: Olivia Nowlin 11, Julia Wolfrey 10, Ally Forejt 9, Megan Taylor 6, Taylor Zucco 3, Chelsea Henggeler 2, McKenzie Dailey 2.
Half: 26-16, Res.