With its once eight-point second-half lead suddenly gone in the late stages of the fourth quarter against visiting Atholton Thursday night, Century forward Kelsey Weishaar knew her team needed something to change the momentum.
So on the possession immediately following the one that saw Atholton tie the game at 32, the Knights’ lone senior called for the ball in post, absorbed the contact from her defender and finished in traffic. That basket and ensuing made foul shot provided a three-point advantage Century never lost the rest of the way en route to a 41-36 victory.
Weishaar said that with the team in search of just its second win of the season, it was time to seize the moment.
“We really picked ourselves up [after they tied it] and said, ‘we’re not going to let this get away from us.’ We pulled it together at the end,” she said.
Century (2-9) ended up outscoring Atholton (3-8) 9-4 over the final two minutes. Weishaar and Jess Diorio each finished with 13 points for the Knights in the victory, while Zhuri Cannon scored 11 to pace the Raiders.
“These girls, they needed a win. As a coach, I don’t get as caught up in the record … but they needed this really bad,”Century coach Heather Semies said. “I think tonight is going to be our launching point, because we have been getting closer and were just in need of that one game to help us turn the corner.”
Atholton, meanwhile lost for the sixth straight time. The Raiders were without two regular rotation players — Kayla Beckwith and Bryce Bathras — because of illness and have struggled to put a full team on the floor all season.
But, as coach Julia Reynold pointed out, figuring out ways to finish out games with whoever is on the floor is top priority moving forward.
“As we are trying different combinations and putting things together, we are still learning. It’s a process and we know that,” Reynold said. “Some of the shots for us just didn’t fall tonight and when you are playing from behind that is magnified a little. But you have to credit Century too, because every time the game got close they seemed to come through with a clutch shot.”
Century wasted little time setting the tone against the Raiders, jumping out to a 9-4 advantage in the opening five minutes. The Knights never extended that cushion to double digits at any point, but also never lost the lead in the second or third quarters.
It was 19-13 in favor of Century at halftime and 29-23 by the end of the third quarter. It wasn’t until the early stages of the fourth quarter that the Raiders really made their big push.
Christianna Kelley, Alexandra Hargrett (10 points) and Cannon all scored during what ended up being a 9-3 run by the Raiders to open the period and tie the game at 32-32 with 2:36 remaining.
But that’s when Weishaar delivered the old-fashioned three-point play that changed the course of the game for good. Diorio followed with a lay-up of her own with 86 seconds left and Century suddenly was in control again.
“They are finally coming together as a team and are seeing what that looks like. Them being able to slow down just a little bit and not letting things get in their head, that was the key,”Semies said. “That is something we have had to really work on with such a young team … but we’re getting there. And tonight they saw what happens when we are talking and running the offense.”
Century will be back in action on Friday against Liberty, while Atholton has a match-up on tap against Oakland Mills.
Century 41, Atholton 36
C (2-9): Weishaar 13, Diorio 13, Demm 6, Huber 5, Mowder 3, Bruno 1.
A (3-8): Cannon 11, Hargrett 10, Sowah 4, Kelley 4, Perlin 3, Ruley 2, Simons 2.
Half: 19-13 C.
Reach Brent Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports