Late in the second quarter Thursday night, Aberdeen's Stephanie Jones grabbed a rebound, dribbled the length of the floor and then soared by two Patterson Mill defenders for an easy layup.
The sophomore has been a force since she stepped on the court last season, and this year, her game has risen to an even higher level. Jones scored 30 points and the top-ranked Eagles flexed their muscle as the two-time defending Class 3A state champions dominated in a 61-40 victory over No. 15 Patterson Mill in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference opener.
"I think we all stepped up," said Jones, an All-Metro first-team pick last season. "Everyone executed the plays really well. We played great defense and did well on the boards, too."
Nazje Norton also had 11 points for Aberdeen (2-0, 1-0 UCBAC). Qalea Ismail led Patterson Mill with 16 points, and Chyna Latimer added nine.
The game attracted several Division I college coaches, including Maryland's Brenda Frese.
Jones took control early and had seven points with two blocks in the opening quarter, helping the Eagles take a 15-7 lead. Patterson Mill (1-1, 0-1 UCBAC) made a run in the second quarter, and a layup by Sam Herman with 2:35 left in the half pulled the Huskies to within 19-17.
However, another putback by Jones in the closing seconds provided the Eagles with an eight-point lead at the break.
"We always expect our girls to go and play hard," Aberdeen coach Amber Milnes said. "There are some things we need to work on. But overall, they executed the plays they needed to, played tough defense and were tough on the boards tonight. That's all we can ask of them."
Aberdeen opened the third quarter with a 13-5 run, capped by a layup by Jones, increasing the lead to 42-23. Patterson Mill picked up the tempo to try and make a run, but the Eagles were simply overwhelming with their defense.
The Eagles continued to convert their opportunities in the final quarter, and a pair of free throws by Katie Sanderson increased the lead to 22 with 3:39 left. Patterson Mill coach Holly Ismail said her team had to do a better job of limiting open layups.
"We got some young players, and the good thing about tonight is they can see the work that needs to be done," Ismail said. "We could not rebound the ball tonight and that hurt us."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun