Down by one with 12.4 seconds left in the game, Oakland Mills senior guard Theda Jackson wanted the ball in her hands knowing her team needed one more big play to pull out the win against Marriotts Ridge Wednesday night.
Out of a timeout, the Scorpions held possession on their near sideline, with Jackson inbounding the ball. She immediately got the ball back after making the entry pass and took the ball to the hoop, sinking the go-ahead bucket.
“I know being a senior captain I have to get the ball in my hands and try and get the best shot possible,” Jackson said after she helped give the Scorpions the 52-51 win. “I knew we were in the bonus so my best option was to drive and hope to get fouled. Luckily I made the basket and got the layup.”
However, after the made basket the Mustangs still had one last opportunity to come up with one last shot to win it.
With 2.6 seconds on the game clock, Oakland Mills held possession underneath Marriotts Ridge’s basket. The Mustangs did a terrific job denying the entry pass, forcing the Scorpions to throw the ball deep. Caroline Blalock picked off the pass, but stumbled before being able to get a shot off as the clock expired.
“We only had two seconds – and our defense keeps us in games, it has all season,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Caitlin Bay. “So I just said, “We can get the ball back and get one shot,” and we got the steal, but I think either Caroline tripped or got tripped up, and wasn’t able to get the shot off. So if she would have shot it from there, that was the look we were looking for.”
It was a heart-breaking loss for Marriotts Ridge, as it nearly came away with its second consecutive victory, after picking up its first county win of the year against Wilde Lake on Jan. 8.
The Mustangs held a 30-27 lead at halftime, but it was a back-and-forth match that saw the score tied six times, with eight different lead changes.
“They leave it on the floor 100 percent of the time and that’s why they are so fun to coach,” Bay said of her group. “We haven’t played in a game that was that back and forth. Usually it’s kind of like down 10, back within one, down eight – so that was a lot of fun. It just came down to them making one more big play than we did at the end.”
The Mustangs entered the fourth quarter holding onto a 36-34 advantage, but Jackson would give Oakland Mills its first lead of the period two minutes into the fourth. The two teams traded baskets from there, but with 1:37 left on the clock, the Scorpions held a 50-46 lead after a Brittany Weiss put back that capped off a 6-0 run.
However, Blalock answered in a big way, knocking down the only made three-pointer in the game that got the Mustangs within one.
“They were playing us in a 3-2 (zone), so we wanted to attack from the corners, and we did,” Bay said. “Toward the end they did a much better job attacking and making some shots from the corners. Caroline hit a good three late.”
With just more than a minute left in the game, Brianna Held made a strong move to the hoop and netted the basket and foul for the Mustangs. She missed on the free throw, but the made bucket gave Marriotts Ridge a 50-51 lead.
On the ensuing possession the Mustangs put Jackson on the foul line, but she missed the one-and-one. However, Ny’Jayah Lockwood came down with the offensive board, giving the Scorpions another possession. Oakland Mills put up a failed shot attempt, but the loose ball deflected off a Mustang player, giving the Scorpions another possession, which led to Jackson’s go-ahead bucket.
“I mean obviously it feels great anytime you get a win, and it was certainly a good win for us,” said Oakland Mills coach Christina Hewitt. “I think it shows character and some fight that we’ve been talking about and we’ve been able to put it into motion. I think we have been getting better actually from the past three games. I’ve been very pleased with our steps of progress and the girls have been working hard in practice.”
Lockwood led all scorers with 21 points, but it was Jackson who not only hit the big bucket at the end, but set up her teammates all game long, leading the fast break and creating off the dribble. She finished with 17 points on the night.
“It’s great scoring the game winning basket and just knowing that the game came down to my shot, it makes me feel good. I’m glad I didn’t let my team down,” Jackson added. “It feels good. We’ve been on a bad losing streak, so we’re trying to get back on the run and we start to play teams over again, so hopefully we can come back and be better.”
For Marriotts Ridge, Blalock led the team with 11 points, while Held finished with 10. Off the bench the Mustangs got great minutes from Hope Morath and Mallory Conroy. They finished with six and four points, respectively.
“(Morath) has been great off the bench. She comes in, she does everything we ask her to do, her defense has been great. So it’s been really nice to have her in the rotation too. And Mallory Conroy coming off the bench, she did a nice job today too,” Bay added. “We just got to keep working. But effort is never an issue with this team, so we fell just short today, but big game Friday.”
Marriotts Ridge and Oakland Mills get back on the floor Friday, with the Mustangs taking on River Hill and the Scorpions facing off against Atholton.
Oakland Mills 52, Marriotts Ridge 51 (Wednesday, Jan. 13)
OM (2-8, 3-9): Lockwood 21, Jackson 17, Pacheco 8, Weiss 6.
MR (1-8, 1-9): C. Blalock 11, Held 10, Sullivan 7, Morath 6, S. Blalock 7, Hockensmith 4, Conroy 4.
Half: 30-27 MR.
Atholton 41, Reservoir 36 (Wednesday, Jan. 13)
The visiting Gators gave the Raiders a good battle Wednesday night, but ultimately Atholton kept its undefeated record in tact for another night and marked its 10th win of the season after the win.
Reservoir opened up with a 9-2 lead to start the game, but the Raiders buckled down and got up 15-14 by halftime.
The Gators played the defending county champs well, as they kept Atholton to a season-low 41 points, while also earning back a four-point advantage entering the fourth quarter.
However, the Raiders experience served them well, as they hit big shots down the stretch and ultimately overcame the deficit and collected the five-point victory.
“Atholton is a good team and didn’t get rattled when they were down,” said Reservoir coach Deb Taylor. “They stepped up and made big plays and big shots in the fourth quarter because they are used to winning. We are still learning to win, learning to play with confidence, and learning to make big plays at crucial times. That will come with experience in these situations, and eventually success in these situations.”
Since getting back from an arm injury, senior Caitlyn Burmester has played tremendously for Julia Reynold’s club. She has led the team in scoring in the past three game’s, including Wednesday night’s win, as she finished with 13 points in the contest.
Fellow senior Megan Hart also contributed with 13 points, while junior guard Ryan Jones chipped in with seven points.
As for the Gators, senior forward Mary Dudzinski played a terrific overall game, collecting seven points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals on the night. Taylor credited Dudzinski’s play and leadership through the game. Freshman Emily Dorn led all scorers with 14 points for Reservoir, while also adding eight boards and three steals to her stat sheet.
“This game went a long way to proving to ourselves that we can play with the most successful team’s in the league,” Taylor added.
Both teams are back on the court Friday, with the Gators hosting Howard and the Raiders going on the road to take on Oakland Mills.
A (8-0, 10-0): Burmester 13, Hart 13, Jones 7, Owens 3, Quinn 3, Flynn 3.
R (4-6, 6-6): Dorn 14, Dudzinski 7, Wilson 7, Tiller 3, Verna 3, Powell 2.
Half: 15-14 A.
Long Reach 46, Howard 36 (Wednesday, Jan. 13)
The Lighting keep climbing atop the county standings, as they earned another statement win Wednesday, handing the Lions their first loss of the season.
“Even seeing them before classes today they were really excited about this game,” said Long Reach coach Kelli Cofield, after her team improved to 9-2 overall on the year and 8-2 in league-play. “Howard is a good team, and they knew they had to come with their best game and they did. Everybody was really dialed in to the game plan and they played really, really well as a team.”
Tied at eight after the first quarter, the Lighting out-scored the Lions the rest of the way, building off a 16-point second quarter and a, 24-17 halftime lead. They ultimately came away with the 10-point win, keeping Howard to its lowest point-total of the season.
“We started off in a press, but they’re a really good team, it’s hard to press a team like that. They saw the opening, so we played them man for three quarters of the game,” Cofield said. “We couldn’t go underneath screens, because Sam (Lewis) does a good job of getting shots off really quickly and she got some off today when we mistakenly went under a screen or switched incorrectly onto her. We just wanted to make sure we were all in help and get out to shooters when necessary, but also stop the dribble drives, because they do good job of passing and cutting. Once somebody gave up the ball, we wanted to get into the passing lanes and stop them from cutting across our face, and I actually think our girls did a good job of executing the game plan.”
Long Reach played its best game of the season. As it only turned the ball over nine times, while forcing the Lions into 29 turnovers. The Lightning stayed extremely active on the defensive side of the ball, which allowed them to get out and push in transition. They netted 18 points off fast-break opportunities and converted Howard’s turnovers into 22 points, while the Lions netted just four points from the Lightning’s nine turnovers.
“We didn’t turn the ball over a lot. But I think the game was won on the defensive end,” said Cofield. “Even on the offensive end, we were very patient. Howard changed some things of what they normally do on defense and I think we did a very good job of adjusting to that.”
Despite being blatantly undersized, even in the backcourt, the Lightning played straight-up man-to-man defense against one of the most dangerous offenses in the league. Heading into the matchup Long Reach didn’t focus on one player, but instead concentrated more on helping each other early and getting out in transition where they thrive.
“We worked a lot on our rotations coming into this game and I thought they did that,” said Cofield. “But we didn’t want to change too much of what we do. We wanted to make sure we stayed aggressive on defense and I think that’s our best asset is getting stops on defense and turning that into offense.”
Kiana Williams led all scorers with 16 points, as she also dished out five assists and made six steals on the night for Long Reach. Off the bench, freshman Lyric Swann continued her impressive play, ending with 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting, while also adding four steals on the night.
“(Kiana Williams) took some great shots,” Cofield said. “Lyric hit some timely three’s as she’s been doing. I think she’s really comfortable. We still have her coming off the bench. I think she gives us a good piece of energy once she gets in, but she makes such good decisions when she’s out there. Her basketball IQ helps tremendously.”
Heading into the game, Sam Lewis and Taylor Addison led Howard offensively, averaging around 13.6 and 13.4 points, respectively on the year, while junior guard Emileigh Scott had the hot hand as of late, averaging 18.3 points in the previous four games. On Wednesday, the Lightning limited Lewis to six points (two made three's), while keeping Scott to six points. Addison held up her average on the night, leading the team with 14 points.
“Howard did a great job on the boards, especially Addison,” Cofield said. “She attacked the offensive glass really well, but we concentrated on that, making sure we rebounded as a team and that’s something we need to do every night – we’re smaller than most.”
This is the second time this season Long Reach has handed a county-team its first loss of the year. It defeated previously unbeaten Glenelg, 38-35 on Dec. 14.
“This win is huge and I told our girls, Howard is very good in our conference, so to beat them in the way that we did, being able to do what we wanted to do is great for our confidence,” Cofield explained. “Our girls, they were excited for this game. And I always tell them, “… there are some games that you want to circle.” We’ve been on a nice streak, but this is a good measuring stick for us to see where we are, because that is a good team that we played.”
Howard and Long Reach are back on the court Friday, with the Lightning hosting Wilde Lake and the Lions traveling to Reservoir.
“I think we’re going to enjoy this win, because the girls deserve to enjoy this win,” Cofield added. “But tomorrow at practice we have to get ready for Wilde Lake.”
LR (8-2, 9-2): K. Williams 16, L. Swann 12, Briggs-Hall 7, Joyce 5, D. Williams 4, Ezimako 2.
Ho (7-1, 10-1): Addison 14, Scott 6, Lewis 6, Furr 5, Kinsey 4, Sam Sagi 1.
Half: 24-17 LR.
Hammond 52, River Hill 39 (Wednesday, Jan. 13)
The Golden Bears ended their two-game losing streak after coming away with a convincing win over the visiting Hawks Wednesday.
Hammond came out firing from the start, getting out to a 19-10 advantage after the first eight minutes of play. The Golden Bears did most of their damage from the three-point line, as they hit eight shots from beyond the perimeter – three of which came in the second quarter alone, which accounted for all their points in the period. Shawnice King and Marley Grenway each netted two three’s a piece, while Taylor Liguori found all of her points from the arc, draining four three’s in the game.
River Hill couldn’t stop Hammond’s hot shooting, as it saw a 10-point deficit entering the second half of action.
The Hawks hit just 11 shots from the field, but did a great job getting to the foul line. They finished 16-of-30 (53 percent) from the charity stripe.
Senior guard Tiffany Howell led River Hill offensively, finishing with 14 points – 10 of which came at the free throw line. Senior forward Sydney Poindexter followed Howell offensively, recording seven points on the night.
For Hammond, Liguori and King each totaled 12 point each, respectively, while Grenway followed with 10 points on the night.
The Golden Bears next task is against Glenelg on the road, while River Hill hosts Marriotts Ridge Friday night.
RH (3-6, 4-6): Howell 14, Poindexter 7, Owens 4, King 4, Dannelly 3, Dawit 3, Feinberg 2.
Ha (4-5, 5-5): S. King 12, Liguori 12, Grenway 10, Reid 8, Mesol 8, D. Abel 2.
Half: 30-20 Ha.
Centennial 44, Wilde Lake 41 (Wednesday, Jan. 13)
The Wildecats nearly came away with their first win of the season Wednesday night, but the Eagles managed to edge out Wilde Lake and take the three-point win.
Centennial’s Kelly Simmons led all scorers with 16 points on the night, while teammate Kewa Gray chipped in 11 points on the night.
For the Wildecats, it was senior Rachel Lazris who led the team offensively, tallying 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and four steals, while also knocking down two shots from behind the three-point mark. Ka’Marie Robinson followed Lazris offensively, finishing with eight points and adding four boards, three assists and four steals. Brynn Drury and Tyler Teachman also added seven points each, respectively for Wilde Lake. Drury added nine rebounds, two blocks and five steals, while Teachman collected eight boards – five on the offensive glass – dished out two assists, and made two steals on the night.
The Wildecats next matchup is Friday against Long Reach, while Centennial hosts Mt. Hebron.
C (5-4, 7-5): Simmons 16, Gray 11, Molz 9, Hampshey 6, Dunagan 2.
WL (0-9, 0-11): Lazris 15, Robinson 8, Drury 7, Teachman 7, Lewis-Turnbo 4.
Half: 20-19 WL.
Glenelg 58, Liberty 54 (Monday, Jan. 11)
After a close last second loss on Friday against Howard, the Gladiators got back on the floor Monday night in a non-conference matchup against the Lions and came away with their 10th win of the season.
“I was a little nervous how the team would respond after Friday night’s loss to Howard,” said Glenelg coach Chris Beil. “Tonight was the best I saw us execute the offense in sometime.”
The Gladiators held Liberty to seven points in the first quarter and took a 30-21 lead into halftime. Glenelg held its momentum entering the second half of action, keeping its 11-point advantage heading into the final eight minutes. However, the Lions put together a stellar fourth quarter to inch toward the lead, outscoring the Gladiators, 21-14. But ultimately, Glenelg held off the Lions to come away with the four-point win on the road.
“Liberty team just never seemed to go away. They are a good team and kept coming back,” Beil said. “I am proud of how the girls have handled adversity and we are looking to get better.”
Miranda Mattis played well in the win for the Gladiators, hitting some clutch three’s down the stretch. She finished with 12 points on the night. But it was Chelsea Henggeler who led the team with 16 points, knocking down several jump shots and hitting six shots from the floor, and a perfect 4-for-4 from the foul line.
G (7-2, 10-2): Henggeler 16, Foster 13, Mattis 12, Wolfrey 9, Butera 7, Twigg 1.
L (6-4): Thompson 16, Griffin 10, Farley 10, Jones 10, Cronin 5, Jackson 3.
Half: 30-21 G.
Long Reach 51, Mercy 25 (Saturday, Jan. 9)
After playing Friday night, the Lightning got up less than nine hours later to take on Mercy in a non-conference matchup in the public versus private challenge at McDonough High School.
The immediate back-to-back didn’t affect Long Reach, as it continued on winning its fifth straight game after the 26-point rout over the Magic.
Arianna Briggs-Hall led the Lightning offensively, scoring a career-high 13 points, as the freshman netted nine of her 13 points in the first quarter, knocked down five shots from the floor and a perfect 3-for-3 from the foul line.
Lyric Swann and Kiana Williams added 12 points a piece for Long Reach, with Swann sinking five shots from the floor, and Williams hitting six buckets from the field, as she scored 10 of her 12 in the second half of action.
LR (7-2, 8-2): Briggs-Hall 13, L. Swann 12, K. Williams 12, Ezimako 7, D. Williams 5, Joyce 2.