On the road and missing their star player, Damascus (18-3) stepped up and handed Reservoir (9-11) just its third loss in 10 games Monday night, as the Hornets defeated the Gators, 46-26.
“I was very pleased,” said Damascus coach Steve Pisarski. “The girls played a really good game. It’s a Monday. We’re away from our normal schedule because of the time of this game and the way Montgomery County buses work we had to drive here in cars, which we haven’t done all year. We’ve been on a bus for every game this year, so that was a little different than our normal thing.”
Reservoir was playing some of their best basketball as of late, and clinched a huge upset victory over Atholton on Friday. But against the Hornets Monday night, the Gators had a lackluster start and scored nine points in the first half on just four made shots from the field.
“There’s no question we came out really flat, so you can make a lot of excuses,” said Reservoir coach Deb Taylor. “First Monday game of the season, non-conference game, coming off a huge win on Friday — there’s a lot of excuses you can make, but at the end of the day that’s what they were.”
Damascus quickly jumped out to a 16-0 lead, which was propelled by three consecutive threes midway through the first quarter by Stephanie DiLeo (8 points) and Kalynn Sefcik (10).
“Reservoir is a pretty good team,” Pisarski said. “We’re not a 16-nothing better team than them, but it also helped that we made a few shots. I think we hit three threes in the first three minutes, so that nine points is a good little part of that run. I thought we played very well.”
DiLeo was a huge first-half contriubter Monday, as she stepped into the starting lineup this week in place of senior Tiana Stewart, who tore her ACL, which ended her season.
“She’s coming in and replacing a Division-I level player, so it is hard for us to lose that and tonight everybody rallied around and made up for her loss," Pisarski said. "It may not happen every night. It didn’t happen in our last game. We won, but we really didn’t play well. But I thought we played pretty well tonight and beat a good team.”
The Gators ended the run with their first basket of the game at 1:43 left in the period. Kayla Wilson pulled down the offensive board off her own shot and got the put-back to go, which ultimately cut the score, 16-2 to end the quarter.
Wilson opened up the second with a basket, but Tori Marella (team-high 14) and Drew Dunathan (9) provided Damascus with five-straight points to push the cushion to 17.
Wilson knocked down a 3-pointer midway through the quarter and Emily Dorn scored her first points of the afternoon with 4:03 left in the half, but the Hornets ended the quarter with four unanswered points to take a 28-9 advantage at the break.
"I know they just beat Atholton who is a very good team and I think they’ve won five out of six or five out of seven," Pisarski said. "I know they’ve been playing well. We had an idea of who their better players were and our game plan was to try and stop them, but the girls executed really well.”
The Gators picked up their play in the second half, as they nearly matched their point total from the first 16 minutes in the third quarter. Dorn and Haley Tiller provided Reservoir all eight of its points, which helped cut the deficit, 38-17, entering the fourth.
“We thought the second half was certainly better than the first,” said Taylor, “But we had nine points at the half and you give up 28, that’s not great defense. We keep teams in the 40’s, but you’re not going to [win] a lot of games scoring nine points [in the half]. But they took us out of a lot of stuff too. They obviously had us well scouted. They took away a bunch of our strengths and what they left us for open shots, we didn’t do a good job of making them.”
The Gators opened up the final eight minutes with a 6-0 run, but Pisarski called a timeout with 6:06 remaining, and the Hornets responded with a 8-0 surge, which put the game out of reach.
“We had a lot to play for,” Taylor said. “We were playing to get to .500. We were playing to out-do how many wins we had last season. There was a lot of incentive to play well. Damascus is very good. They are very well coached. They did a very good job against every defense we tried to throw at them and combined with being very, very flat we didn’t handle that very well.”
Dorn and Wilson led their team with nine points apiece, while Tiller finished with five and Jenni Fourney added three off the bench.
“Dorn is a really good player. I love the way she plays,” Pisarski said. “We watched her on tape. She’s really good, just the effort. I know she’s young. She’s going to get better. Dorn just works her butt off and we struggled. We had one post player foul out. We had another with three fouls, I mean we banged her around as best we could but she is good.
"Tiller is very fast, but we kind of game planned for her. And [Wilson] I’ve seen she’s had some really big scoring games. We just tried to take away what we thought the strengths were and, you know, for one night we did.”
Damascus is hoping to end the season strong, as its last regular season matchup is Wednesday against C. Milton Wright.
“We didn’t mark this down as win for us, we marked this down that we need this to get the two-seed in the playoffs,” added Pisarski. “So it was pretty pleasing. The girls played well tonight.”
The Gators, meanwhile, hope to end the regular season with two straight wins, as they take on Centennial at home Wednesday and Mt. Hebron on the road Friday night.
“It’s really up to them. They can really go one way or another at this point, right? There’s no reason not to just bounce back from this and be ready to go,” Taylor added. “Wednesday is senior night and back into the county, so it’s really kind of up to them. We’ll go back to work tomorrow and we’ll be positive with them and try to get them focused for Wednesday.”
Damascus 46, Reservoir 26
D (18-3): Dorn 9, Wilson 9, Tiller 5, Fourney 3.
Re (7-2, 9-11): Marella 14, Sefcik 10, Dunathan 9, Dileo 8, Brown 3, Stone 2.
Half: 28-9, Damascus.
Around the league:
Atholton 69, Baltimore City College 49
Playing in their third game in four days, the Raiders picked up a huge victory on the road against Baltimore City College.
It was a tight first quarter, as the Black Knights took a slight one-point advantage after the first eight minutes, but Raiders seniors Ryan Jones and Francesca Vanegas took over from there.
After scoring three points each in the first quarter, Jones and Vanegas combined for 17 of Atholton’s 23 points in the second, which allowed them to jump out to a 36-25 halftime lead.
The Raiders limited Baltimore City to just four made shots from the field in the third quarter, while Atholton got additional offense from Christianna Kelley and Zhuri Cannon off the bench, which extended its lead to 19 entering the final eight minutes.
The large cushion was too much to overcome for the Black Knights, as the Raiders clinched their second consecutive win.
Jones and Vanegas led the way for Atholton with 20 and 19 points, respectively. Jones knocked down five shots from beyond the perimeter, while Vanegas did most of her damage at the free throw line as she finished a perfect, 10 of 10.
Cannon followed with 14 points, while Kelley and Sarah Sowah added six and five, respectively.
Raquel Nicholson and Janaiah Hardison led the Black Knights with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Raiders are back on the floor Wednesday visiting Mt. Hebron for a 5:30 p.m. matchup, and then will end their regular season at home against Long Reach at 7 p.m.
A (7-2, 13-5): Jones 20, Vanegas 19, Cannon 14, Kelley 6, Orlosky 5, Harrison 2, Flynn 2, Bathras 1.
BCC: R. Nicholson 11, Hardison 10, Henson 8, Gardner 6, Rosser 4, Ford 4, Carter 2, A. Nicholson 2, Fenner 21,
Half: 36-25, Atholton.
Oakland Mills 63, Dundalk 34
OM (1-8, 9-11)
Bel Air 59, Mt. Hebron 54
MH (7-2, 12-8)
Liberty 39, River Hill 37
RH (2-8, 5-14)