For three quarters Wednesday night against visiting Chesapeake, Long Reach had its full offensive arsenal on display.
Sisters Lyric and Jaelyn Swann were hitting from beyond the arc, opening things up on the interior for Arianna Briggs-Hall and Haley Thompson. That freed up Kiana Williams to be the facilitator, spreading the ball around on the way to helping the Lightning build a 28-point lead.
And while Chesapeake regrouped to put together a huge fourth quarter, Long Reach’s dominating start proved to be simply too large of a deficit for the Cougars to overcome on the way to a 61-51 victory. The Lightning improved to 3-0 with the win, while Chesapeake dropped to 4-1.
“This is an exciting bunch and I think tonight showed that we’re not just Kiana and Lyric … we’ve got a lot of well kept secrets on this team,” Long Reach coach Kelli Cofield said. “[Arianna], in particular, somehow continues to fly under the radar for some reason, but she is an incredible presence on the inside not just scoring but also rebounding. I thought her effort in there tonight really opened up the floor.”
Briggs-Hall ended up scoring 16 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, finishing as one of three Lightning players in double figures for points. Lyric Swann (19 points) and Jaelyn Swann (14) also did more than their fair share of damage as scorers, while Williams finished with 11 assists.
On the other side, Chesapeake’s Brooke Worrell finished with a game-high 23 points and was the driving force behind the team’s fourth quarter push that included a 13-0 run to begin the period. Haley Downin, Corinne Castle and Morgan Gray also added eight points apiece.
Cougars’ coach Maria Gray said she was pleased with the way her team regrouped down the stretch, ultimately outscoring the Lightning 23-5 over the final eight minutes.
“I told the girls at halftime, this is where you dig and you find heart. You can either choose to give up or you keep fighting,” Gray said. “I’m proud that they chose to keep fighting.”
It was Chesapeake that kicked off the game’s scoring, immediately after the opening tip. Those two points, however, proved costly.
While making a lay-up, Morgan LeCompte rolled her ankle and was forced to leave the game. The combination of losing one of their starters, to go along with Long Reach making five 3-pointers in the first six minutes, created a double-digit deficit before the Cougars could blink.
“First 10 seconds that definitely changed the dynamic and we had to kind of go with the flow. I think it took us a little while to really find our groove after that and credit to Long Reach for hitting their shots and taking advantage,” Gray said.
Briggs-Hall began to take over in the second quarter and Long Reach was able to increase its lead to 42-18 by halftime. Later, following an 8-0 run courtesy of Malaya Streeter and Jaelyn Swann to close the third quarter, the lead ballooned to 56-28.
“I thought the key to our victory was just getting out and running and seeing the mismatches that we had and making sure we got the ball to those players,” Briggs-Hall said.
Despite being doubled-up on the scoreboard, though, Chesapeake kept fighting. Worrell started the fourth quarter with nine unanswered points on her own and then Downin and Gray got into the act as well. Gray ended up adding team highs of seven rebounds and four blocks to her scoring total.
The push forced Long Reach, which had experimented with a couple different line-ups to start the final period, to bring its full starting line-up back on the floor for the closing minutes.
In the end, the final 10-point margin was the closest the game had been since the opening five minutes.
Cofield said the fourth quarter showcased some defensive things that the team still needs to work on, but overall she wasn’t overly concerned.
“I don’t get too worked up over them coming back into it, we showed plenty during those first three quarters and that cushion allowed us to see some different line-ups and get some of our young girls some experience against a good team,” Cofield said. “And really, right now, it’s all about that game experience and trying to get ourselves better every day in preparation for February. I thought tonight was an important step for us.”
Long Reach 61, Chesapeake 51
LR (3-0): L. Swann 19, Briggs-Hall 16, J. Swann 14, Thompson 6, Streeter 6.
C (4-1): Worrell 23, Downin 8, Castle 8, Gray 8, Blanchard 2, LeCompte 2.
Half: 42-18 LR.
River Hill 61, Southern 32
Mona King (15 points), Mia McCormick (12) and Kennedy Clark (11) all scored in double figures to pace the Hawks against Southern. The Hawks are now 6-0 overall this winter.
RH (2-0, 6-0): King 15, McCormick 12, Clark 11, S. Jackson 9, Wesche 6, E. Jackson 4, Altman 2, Masker 2.
S: Mangold 10, Barkman 8, Kronk 6, Hopkins 5, Fitzwater 3.
Half: 36-7 RH.
Wilde Lake 53, Northeast 47
The Wildecats picked up their first win of the season, with Kiyah King (21 points), Kalani Corkeron (18 points) and Jazmin Perry (11 points) all scoring in double figures.
WL (0-2, 1-3): King 21, Corkeron 18, Perry 11, Richards 2, Wright 1.
NE: Nalley 26, Mackenzie 10, Wills 4, Berge 3, Leyland 2, Collins 2.
Half: 25-24 NE.
Glenelg 63, Broadneck 43
The Gladiators won their second straight game, with Jess Foster (20 points, 8 assists) and Kellie Johnson (16 points) leading the way offensively. But it was all-around games from Abby Gillespie (9 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks) and Alex Anderson (8 points, 5 steals) that went a long way to earning the victory as well.
G (2-1, 4-1): Foster 20, Johnson 16, Gillespie 9, Anderson 8, Prezelski 7, Arterburn 2, LePage 1.
B: Turner 11, Washington 8, Fletcher 6, Tucker 4, Dawson 4, Hinkler 4, McCue 4, Tyburski 2.
Half: 39-12 G.
Atholton 50, Arundel 26
Christiana Kelley and Kayla Beckwith posted 12 points apiece to lead the way for the Raiders, who had 10 different players score in the victory.
Ath (0-2, 2-2): Beckwith 12, Kelley 12, Simons 5, Blair 5, Sowah 5, Ruley 4, Kim 2, Smith 2, Cannon 2, Kasehak 1.
A: Watts 8, Barksdale 5, Smith 5, Hamon 2, Overton 2, Quille 2, Long 2.
Half: 25-8 Ath.
Hammond 72, North County 69 OT
Imani Reid delivered a game to remember, scoring a career-high 40 points to help the Golden Bears win for the second time this winter. She hit 15 field goals, two of those from beyond the arc, and went 8-12 from the foul line to go along with also pulling down six rebounds.
After the game was tied 62-62 at the end of regulation, Reid and teammate Nyelle Allen (15 points, 12 rebounds) combined to score nine of the Golden Bears 10 points in the overtime period.
Other standouts in the win were Makenna Burns (three points, five steals) and sophomores Aryss Lindsey and Keisean Brown.
Ha (2-3): Reid 40, Allen 15, McInerney 5, Brown 5, Burns 3, Lindsey 2, Fogle 2.
NC: Scott 21, Shaffer 19, McQuade 12, Baynard 8, Thomas 4, Robinson 4, Biggs 1.
Half: 28-23 NC; Regulation: 62-62.
South River 50, Reservoir 35
The Gators got as close as 38-32 in the second half before the Seahawks pulled away for the victory. In the loss, Emily Dorn (14 points and 18 rebounds) and Nia Powell (10 points and 14 rebounds) each finished with a double-double for the Gators.
Paris Plummer (10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) and Kathleen Sullivan (11 points, 5 rebounds)
Meade 48, Centennial 43
M: Greer 19, Whitfield 8, Jackson 7, Owens 7, Williams 7.
C (2-0. 3-2): Anderson 10, Welsh 9, Worthy 7, Dossett 7, Hamshey 6, Reese 4.
Oakland Mills 54, Annapolis 15
OM (3-0, 5-1): Grenway 13, Riggs 9, Washington 8, T. McDuffie 7, Eldridge 6, M. Brown 5, B. Brown 3, I. McDuffie 3.
Half: 34-3 OM.
Marriotts Ridge 47, Glen Burnie 23
Mt. Hebron 56, Severna Park 35
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports