In a game that pitted two of the top teams in Howard County Monday night, Atholton out-shot visiting Howard to earn a 68-61 win and climb one game closer toward the top of the league standings.
“It was exciting. Anytime you play against (Lions coach) Scott Robinson he really does a great job with all his teams, so it was going to be a competitive game,” said Raiders coach Julia Reynold. “We shot lights out. I mean it was a 3 and then back-and-forth, it was pretty crazy.”
Atholton (11-2, 13-2) came out with the hot start, picking up a quick 6-0 lead within the first 45 seconds. But Howard (12-2, 15-2) responded with a 7-0 run of its own to take back the one-point advantage at the 3:45 mark.
The first half went back-and-forth from then on, seeing seven different lead changes in the first 16 minutes and totaling 13 by game’s end.
Senior Megan Hart was the catalyst in the second quarter for the Raiders, as she hit four consecutive buckets midway through the period that got Atholton within a basket of knotting up the score. But the Lions junior guard Sam Lewis dominated from beyond the perimeter, as she hit four 3’s in the first half and concluded with 16 points before the break. Her effort aided Howard’s 34-31 halftime lead.
But the Raiders continued their hot shooting through the second-half, as Jones led the way, notching 14 of her final 16 points in the final 16 minutes of the game.
“We really paid attention to the little things to make the bigger picture, which was the win,” she said. “All we were looking forward to was getting the win no matter what, so it was just a good team effort.”
Jones helped guide a 9-2 run late in the third quarter that put the Raiders ahead for good, as the junior guard hit three consecutive buckets to give Atholton its largest lead since the opening minute at 49-43, with 1 minute and 16 seconds left in the third.
Atholton’s largest cushion came at the 1:58 mark of the fourth quarter, after Francesca Vanegas’s made 3-pointer put the Raiders ahead by 10.
“Really pleased,” Reynold said. “We talk about composure a lot, especially any team you play in the county is going to be really competitive and you got to know that it’s going to be a fight until the end and you just got to take care of the basketball and play our game.”
Howard got within four-points with a minute remaining in the game, but Atholton stood its ground and didn’t allow any clean looks. The Lions’ last two attempts were off the mark, with the Raiders Caitlyn Burmester picking up the defensive board on both occasions.
“Caitlyn is unbelievable underneath the basket,” Reynold said of the senior forward. “She does a lot of things that doesn’t show up on the stat line, but she’s aggressive and she’s always on the floor hustling after a couple loose ball, especially late in the game.”
Ultimately, the Lions were forced to foul, but Atholton hit 3-of-6 from the line in the last 40 seconds, which was enough to secure the win.
“They just really played well. They just shot really, really well. We tried everything defensively and I just give credit to them,” Robinson said. “We scored 61 points, but 68 points, that’s just way too many points to give up. So I credit them, just doing a great job on offense.”
Including Jones, Atholton put Vanegas (13), Burmester (11) and Hart (13) in double-figure points in the team’s best shooting performance of the season.
“They shot the lights out, they deserve the win and we tried to guard everything that they do but it was hard, they shot well,” Robinson added. “When they’re on they have a very balanced team. They’re backcourt is really dynamic and then when you have Hart shooting like that, and Burmester shooting and (Meaghan) Quinn, along with Vanegas and Jones, I mean it’s just like pick your poison.”
Lewis led Howard with 20 points, with Taylor Addison and Emileigh Scott following offensively, registering 17 and 14 points, respectively.
“Feels great to get a good team win,” Jones added. “They’re a really good team. They’re humble, they’re hungry and they have really good fundamentals.”
The Lions, coming off a win over Oakland Mills Saturday, is forced to play three games in five days, as they host the Raiders Wednesday. The winner is poised to take sole possession of first place in the county.
“I think every team one of their goals in the beginning of the season is to win the county championship,” said Robinson. “So we’re going to try to win so we can stay in the county championship contention.”
The circumstances become even more interesting with only one day to prepare, but for Reynold she said it’s about focusing on their game.
“It definitely going to be a challenge either way, it is going to be tough because everyone is going to be exhausted,” Reynold said. “But you know, we have to be flexible and come prepared and know what we need to do and learn from this game and see what can we improve on.
“We definitely have to play our game and focus on ourselves first. Clearly, (Lewis) was just shooting everything and so we have to make certain adjustments. But bottom line, we have to play our style of play.”
Atholton 68, Howard 61 (Monday, Feb. 8)
A (11-2, 13-2): Jones 17, Vanegas 13, Hart 13, Burmester 11, Quinn 9, Owens 4, Flynn 2.
Ho (12-2, 15-2): Lewis 20, Addison 17, Scott 14, Sam Sagi 8, Kinsey 2.
Half: 34-31 Ho.
Long Reach 53, Reservoir 45 (Monday, Feb. 8)
The Lightning broke their two-game losing streak with a win over the Gators Monday night.
However, despite a 13-point deficit at halftime, Reservoir fought back and got within four with two minutes left in the game. But Long Reach freshman guard Lyric Swann hit a huge 3-pointer down the stretch to put the lead back up to seven, which helped the Lightning retain their cushion and come away with the 53-45 decision.
The Gators came in thin on their depth chart, as they had senior starting forward Mary Dudzinski (knee) and sophomore guard Ashley Gray inactive for the game. But despite the injuries coach Deb Taylor was pleased with the way her team fought against a very explosive Long Reach team.
“So proud of our second half effort,” Taylor said. “To continue to have virtually no depth at this point and girls playing tons of minutes, yet they battle and don’t back down. We are learning to be tough and to work together to overcome adversity.”
The Lightning jumped out to a 16-10 advantage after the first quarter, and continued its impressive offensive performance in the second period. Sophomore guard Kiana Williams netted 10 of her game-high 21 points in the second quarter, which helped Long Reach’s 32-19 halftime lead.
But the Gators came out strong after the break. They switched to a full court man-to-man press and held the Lightning to just three buckets in the following eight minutes.
Junior guard Haley Tiller played well defensively for Reservoir, holding Swann to four second-half points, after the dynamic point guard netted six in the first half of action.
Sophomore forward Nia Powell stepped up with the absence of Dudzinski, posting a season-high 12 points and recording her first double-double on the year by adding 11 boards. Kayla Wilson finished with a team-high 17 points for Reservoir, added four rebounds and went a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line, while freshman Emily Dorn recorded eight points and 14 rebounds on the night.
Ariana Briggs-Hall and Devon Williams chipped in with eight and seven points, respectively, for Long Reach.
LR (10-5, 11-5): K. Williams 21, L. Swann 10, Brigs-Hall 8, D. Williams 7, Joyce 3, Thompson 2, Ezimako 2.
Re (6-9, 8-10): Wilson 17, Powell 12, Dorn 8, Tiller 4, Verna 2, Fourney 2.
Half: 32-19 LR.
Oakland Mills 63, Northeast 44 (Monday, Feb. 8)
The Scorpions snapped a four-game losing skid by defeating the Eagles by a 19-point margin Monday.
Oakland Mills scored a season-high 63 points, which was aided by 20-plus point totals scored in the second and fourth quarters.
Senior forward Ny’Jayah Lockwood scored a season-high 29 points for the Scorpions, while senior forward Brittany Weiss also surpassed her season-high, following Lockwood with 16 points, with Theda Jackson registering 15 points on the night.
Oakland Mills shot modestly from the free throw line, getting to the charity stripe 22 times in the contest and sinking 13 (59 percent). Lockwood accumulated most of the chances from the line, as she finished the night 9-for-14.
The Scorpions are back on the floor Wednesday, Feb. 10 when they host Hammond for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff.
OM (3-11, 5-12): Lockwood 29, Weiss 16, Jackson 15, Pacheco 4.