It was a long four days for Atholton.
It not only battled through two tough games against Howard and Reservoir in its latest contests, but also had to overcome a loss against the Gators about 15 hours prior to their matchup on the road against Marriotts Ridge Saturday morning.
However, after a slow start the Raiders ended their two-game losing skid and had solid contributions from a deep bench to propel the 56-42 win over the Mustangs.
“It’s definitely tough,” said Atholton coach Julia Reynold. “It’s draining on them, but you know you just have to step up to the challenge. Next person up had to step in and we had to learn from our mistakes from last night. We dug deep and figured some things out.”
Marriotts Ridge (5-4, 14-6) also was on short rest, as it defeated River Hill on the road Friday night.
The Mustangs played well defensively, especially against the Raiders talented backcourt, and had good looks from the floor, but their shots simply weren’t falling.
“The talk in the locker room today was that I am proud of them,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Caitlin Reese. “I am proud of their defense. We throw a lot of defenses out there and I am proud of their mental toughness of knowing what we’re in and executing. They moved their feet, Atholton just made some great contested shots. They moved the ball well and that was the difference in the game.”
The fatigue of the back-to-back games showed heavily in the opening minutes, as the Mustangs and Raiders (7-2, 15-5) combined for just five made baskets in the first quarter, with Marriotts Ridge taking the slight one-point cushion after five lead changes in the period.
Atholton jumped out in front in the second, however, and held on for the rest way, as Ryan Jones, Bryce Bathras and Alexandra Hargrett helped in the Raiders a 6-1 stretch at the beginning of the quarter.
Hope Morath made Marriotts Ridge’s first shot of the period about two minutes in, but Atholton responded with a 6-0 run, which gave them a 10-point lead with four minutes to go before the break.
After Reese called a timeout to end the surge, Marriotts Ride came out with four straight points and ended the half with a 9-3 advantage to cut the score, 28-24 at the break.
Caroline Blalock opened up the second half with a basket for Marriotts Ridge to slice the deficit to two, but Atholton matched the Mustangs bucket-for-bucket throughout the rest of the third quarter and then ended the period on a 7-0 run, which extended their lead, 43-35.
Marriotts Ridge fought-back to get within eight with 3:09 left, but didn’t connect on another attempt for the remainder of the game.
“We said it in the locker room. It’s never a lack of effort with this team. We executed, just one of those games where our shots weren’t falling and there’s were,” Reese said. “I thought we had a lot better looks than they did, but they were making a lot of contested shots. Hats off to them. It was the difference in the game, free throws, outside shots — they finished them.”
Atholton had baskets from Vanegas and Allison Orlosky in the final minutes, while Sofia Harrison made 2 of 3 from the charity stripe in the last 55 seconds to ice the win.
“I think just keeping fresh legs out on the floor [was the key],” Reynold said. “It was tough. We knew Marriotts Ridge was scrappy and they had good shooters, so we had to concentrate on that. I think we needed to do a better job of boxing out underneath, so that was one of our focuses at halftime, making sure to put a body on someone.”
Vanegas led Atholton with 17 points, followed by Jones (8) and Harrison (8), while Hargrett chipped in with six points off the bench.
“They were exhausted, completely and totally,” Reynold added. “We had lots of people coming in. I thought Alex [Hargrett] played really well come in for us and we just had quicker substitutions.”
Sarah Blalock led all scorers with 18 points, while Casey Sullivan and Mallory Conroy followed with seven and six, respectively.
Atholton and Marriotts Ridge are both on the road in its upcoming games. The Raiders will visit Mt. Hebron, while the Mustangs take on Hammond. Both outings are set for a 5:30 p.m. tip.
Atholton 56, Marriotts Ridge 42
A (7-2, 15-5): Vanegas 17, Jones 8, Harrison 8, Hargrett 6, Kelley 4, Beckwith 4, Cannon 3, Orlosky 2, Sowah 2, Bathras 2.
MR (5-4, 14-6): S. Blalock 18, Sullivan 7, Conroy 6, H. Morath 5, Ohnmacht 4, C. Blalock 2.
Half: 28-24, Atholton.