On its home floor Monday night, Atholton showcased just how much difference two months can make.
The Raiders, who lost by 26 points against the Eagles in the team’s county opener at the beginning of December, turned the tables on visiting Centennial by putting three players in double figures on the way to a 59-46 victory. Kayla Beckwith, who did not play in the first meeting between the two squads, scored a team-high 17 points for an Atholton (5-6, 7-9) team that won for the fourth time in its last five games.
“We had some tough games early in the season, but we’re starting to come together and I think those previous games are really helping us. We’ve learned a lot,” Atholton coach Julia Reynold said. “Centennial is a team that you know is going to keep coming, so to stay composed like we did today was great to see.”
Bryce Bathras (season-high 14 points) and Kelly Simons (10) also finished in double figures scoring for the Raiders in the victory. Rasa Welsh paced Centennial (6-5, 9-7) in the loss with 17 points.
Atholton jumped ahead right from the beginning, opening up a 15-10 cushion by the end of the first quarter. Five different players scored in the period for the Raiders, but it was the team’s effort on the other end of the floor that Centennial coach Rob Slopek thought dictated the course for the rest of the evening.
“They set the tone defensively and I think we let our offense dictate things, which is uncharacteristic for us after hanging our hat on our own defensive performance the last month. We got frustrated because we weren’t getting easy buckets and we got away from the plan,” Slopek said. “But Atholton outplayed us, honestly right from the tip. And I give them a ton of credit for that.”
Centennial made a small push to begin the second quarter, getting some strong inside play from Welsh, but Atholton was able to extend its lead out to eight points, 27-19, by halftime.
In the third quarter, following a lay up by Bathras with 3:27 left in the period, Atholton had its largest lead of the night to that point at 12 points, 37-25.
And while Centennial did cut into that deficit several times, the Raiders never let the Eagles get any closer than six points during the game’s final 10 minutes. Bathras said the team’s ability to play and protect a lead is among its greatest improvements since the beginning of the season.
“A couple games in the past, we’ve let down and kind of let [the other team] coming back get in our heads,” Bathras said. “This game we focused on … making sure we stayed with our marks, not fouling and not trying to jump crazy things. We focused on playing simple, getting the passes and making the easy buckets.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Bathras had a string of three straight baskets to put the game away for good.
Atholton is back in action at home on Wednesday against Marriotts Ridge, where the team will be trying to keep its momentum going and also help coach Julia Reynold secure the 100th win of her coaching career.
Centennial will be back in action against Wilde Lake the same night.
Atholton 59, Centennial 46
A (5-6, 7-9): Beckwith 17, Bathras 14, Simons 10, Cannon 5, Hargrett 5, Sowah 4, Ruley 4.
C (6-5, 9-7): Welsh 17, Anderson 8, Dossett 6, Molz 5, Reese 4, Lambert 4, Rockefeller 2.
Half: 27-19 A.
Long Reach 67, Hammond 29
The Lightning stayed unbeaten in county play, getting a season-high 25 points and 8 steals from Lyric Swann — including 13 points during the team’s 27-point first quarter.
LR (10-0, 11-1): L. Swann 25, Williams 16, J. Swann 12, Briggs-Hall 6, Thompson 4, Streeter 4, Proctor 3.
Ha (2-8, 5-8): Reid 11, Lindsay 8, Burns 3, McInerney 2, Allen 2, Clark 2, Khumbah 1.
Half: -12 LR.
Howard 56, Wilde Lake 18
The Lions got a season high 14 points from Camille Malagar, all coming in the first half, to help lead the way to the team’s seventh straight victory.
Ho (9-1, 15-1): Malagar 14, Sanchez-Henry 9, Robison 6, Russell 6, Jones 6, Durkee 4, Thames 4, Burris 3, Eich 2, Furr 2.
WL (0-10, 1-13): Perry 6, Wright 4, Wilson 3, Corkeron 3, Richards 2.
Half: 46-10 Ho.
Reservoir 50, Great Mills 36
The Gators extended their winning streak to a county-best eight straight games, holding Great Mills (9-3) to 11 percent shooting from 3-point range. At the beginning of a huge week that includes games against Howard on Friday and Tuscararora on Saturday, Reservoir ended up with three players scoring in double figures.
“We have four games in six days and [we have to take it] one game at a time,” Reservoir coach Deb Taylor said. “I’m proud of how they handled this talented but unknown opponent.”
Emily Dorn finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds, Nia Powell had 10 points and 11 rebounds and Tiffany Hooker posted 15 points, three steals and three rebounds.
Re (7-3, 9-6): Dorn 18, Hooker 15, Powell 10, Abunassar 4, Bailey 2, Moultrie 1.
GM: Daniels 11, Allen 6, Gaskin 6, Pak 5, Jenkins 4, Harris 4.
Half: 27-15 Re.
Oakland Mills 45, Eastern Tech 31
Westminster 57, Mt. Hebron 53
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports