Reservoir girls basketball

Reservoir's Zelor Massaquoi (center) and Keri Rager (right), seen in this file photo from earlier this winter, helped lead the Gators to a playoff victory over River Hill on Wednesday. (File photo by Jon Sham / March 6, 2014)

Keri Rager played one of her best all-around games of the season and teammate Zelor Massaquoi came to life for a huge second half, helping Reservoir pull away down the stretch Wednesday for a 51-41 victory over River Hill.

Massaquoi, who had been held to just one field goal in the first half of a game that was tied 18-18, exploded for 17 of her team-high 20 points over the final 16 minutes. After Rager (14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) had done most of the heavy lifting in the first half, Massaquoi decided it was her turn in crunch time to do the same.

“Seeing Keri hustling and playing the way she was, I knew that I couldn't let her down by not stepping up and matching her effort,” said Massaquoi., who added 16 rebounds for a double-double. “I’m always telling Keri that we need to be that one-two punch — batman and robin — and she was doing her part, so I knew it was up to me to do mine.”

Ultimately it was a 13-0 Reservoir run during the middle of the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference in the game. Massaquoi and Rager combined for nine of those points, but Blair Bonner (6 points, 17 rebounds) and Tara Thompson (6 points) also provided crucial baskets during the run.

River Hill made a few shots in the final minute, but failed to get any closer than the final 10-point margin.

“(Our girls) brought an intensity that I haven’t seen from them with any kind of consistency up until tonight. They played like a team that wanted it more and I thought that was the difference,” Reservoir coach Kyle Sullivan said. “And I thought it started right from the start. We were attacking the rebounds, a lot of good looks that weren’t necessarily falling … but I knew that if we could keep with that same intensity those shots were going to fall.

“And, sure enough, come the fourth quarter, that extra effort helped the momentum start swinging our way.”

The two teams had played neck-and-neck the entire first three quarters, with neither squad leading by more than six points. During that period, the lead changed hands eight times.

River Hill’s Jenna Collins (22 points) was especially impressive early, scoring eight of her team’s points in the first quarter on the way to a 12-11 lead. But Rager helped Reservoir keep pace by scoring eight first-half points of her own.

Massaquoi, saddled with two fouls, scored just three points in the first half. Her teammates, however, helped get the game into halftime tied.

Then, right out of the gates in the third quarter, Massaquoi began taking over.

She scored her team’s first 10 points of the second half and, later in the fourth quarter, it was her three-point play that sparked the run that put the game out of reach.

“I was honestly thinking to myself, ‘I’m Zelor Massaquoi, this is unacceptable.’ Three points in a half is just totally unacceptable and I hold myself to a much higher standard than that,” she said. “I found it actually a little bit disgraceful, especially knowing that I’m capable of so much more. So I definitely was motivated.

“It wasn’t just scoring either. It was about coming out in the second half and getting into playing defense, too.”

In the loss, Jess Hopkins (9 points) and Julia Collins (8) also provided solid efforts for River Hill.

Reservoir advances into a regional semifinal game on Thursday night against Atholton, which defeated Glenelg in its game on Wednesday.

Reservoir 51, River Hill 41

Re: Massaquoi 20, Rager 14, Bonner 6, Thompson 6, Turner 3, Dudzinski 2.

RH: Jenna Collins 22, Hopkins 9, Julia Collins 8, Hovet 2.

Half: 18-18.

Other scores:

City 62, Mt. Hebron 42

Poly 54, Centennial 36

Atholton 44, Glenelg 32