Midway through the third quarter, Reservoir forward Blair Bonner fed teammate Zelor Massaquoi in stride for an easy layup – a routine the pair frequently showcased all season long.
These points, however, were special for Massaquoi. With the basket, the senior notched her 1,000th point of her Gators career.
“Blair and I play so well together,” said Massaquoi, whose visiting Reservoir team held on for the 66-63 victory over Oakland Mills on Monday. “Had it not been for her stepping up those passing abilities, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get to this point.”
Massaquoi, humbled by the honor, said she was more focused on her team getting the win. The Scorpions (5-12, 6-13) had battled back from a double-digit deficit on multiple occasions, and even held a one-possession lead in the fourth quarter. Noticing the Gators (14-4) needed a lift, the senior said she made it a point to get her teammates back in it. “It’s no fun scoring 1,000 points if you lose the game,” she said.
For a team that gave up an average of 42.9 points per game heading into the contest, Reservoir’s defense had trouble containing the Scorpions’ talented backcourt. Oakland Mills got its biggest production from Karigan Awkward (26 points) and Tori Diggs (16).
“I was a little nervous at the beginning, especially after the five day layoff. But they came out and showed a lot of perseverance,” said Oakland Mills coach Christina Hewitt. “The girls were putting it out there and they were working hard. I was extremely proud of them.”
The Gators came out of the gates a little slow before finally catching fire in the second quarter, employing a press that Reservoir coach Kyle Sullivan said helped his squad create easy looks off turnovers. By halftime, a 12-1 run put the visitors in control, 33-22.
On defense, Scorpions’ forward Lauren Thompson had the task of keeping Massaquoi under wraps. Hewitt was impressed with her fight, adding that, had it not been for her continued presence down low, the county’s leading scorer could have walked away with a higher total.
Throughout the third period, the Scorpions hung around long enough to make a run. By the final eight minutes, they finally struck.
Their lead was short-lived, however, as the Gators pulled away when it counted most. A few poor possessions down the stretch, according to Hewitt, proved to be the difference.
“The communication could have been a bit better, and part of it was that we were slow in setting up our defense at times,” said Gators coach Kyle Sullivan, whose squad was coming off a loss to Mt. Hebron on Feb. 12. “But it was definitely good to bounce back. We needed to get things back on track.”
Following the game, Sullivan referred to Massaquoi as the best player to ever come through the Reservoir girls basketball program. Knowing that she was close to the milestone achievement, it could have been easy for the talented senior to start to look ahead.
“Once you know how close you are, things can tighten up a bit,” said Sullivan. “But she let it come to her. I was very happy for her. She earned it.”
Oakland Mills will take on Marriotts Ridge on Wednesday. Then, the Scorpions will get one more chance to take down a quality opponent on Friday, when they battle Centennial to end the county regular season.
The Gators will welcome Howard on Tuesday to close out their regular season play as well. In an effort to keep her teammates’ heads up in the face of season filled with adversity, Massaquoi told them she’s got a good feeling about things to come.
“Bad things happen to good people, but the universe has a funny way of correcting those things,” she said. “I trust and believe that the universe will correct those things for us down the road.”
Reservoir 66, Oakland Mills 63
Res: Zelor Massaquoi 22, Keri Rager 18, Danaysha Turner 8, Blair Bonner 4, Tara Thompson 4.
OM: Karigan Awkward 26, Tori Diggs 16, Theda Jackson 8, Diamond Lee 8, Lauren Thompson 5.
Half: 33-22, Gators.
Archbishop Carroll 64, Glenelg 52
Glenelg (7-10, 8-12): Olivia Nowlin 21, Ally Forejt 11, Julia Wolfrey 6, Megan Taylor 4, Lauren Wright 3, Chelsea Henggeler 3, Miranda Mattis 2, Grace Butera 2.
Half: 32-23, Carroll.