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Baltimore County Sports

Catonsville girls basketball’s defense, hot early perimeter shooting lead to 38-31 victory over Western Tech

Since being called up to varsity freshman year, Catonsville senior guard Leah Vacin has never been victorious over local rival Western Tech.

Wednesday night, Vacin celebrated a 38-31 road victory that ended a three-game losing streak to the Wolverines.

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The win was extra special for Vacin because her friend from middle school, senior Danielle Weeks, was on the other side.

“It feels good because my friend Danielle is on the team, which is a plus winning,” said Vacin, who finished with 10 points.

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Alexis Johnson also scored 10 for Catonsville. Weeks scored a game-high 13 points and senior Imani Groce added 11 for the hosts.

Catonsville’s Asaani Offer drives to the basket around Western Tech’s Peyten Cox during Wednesday's game.

Vacin did all of her damage in the first half, draining a pair of 3-pointers, a perimeter shot and layup. Ellie Altmann also hit a 3-pointer in the first half when the Comets built a 22-11 lead.

“We’ve been working a lot on shooting in practice and I think that is what really has been helping us as a team,” Vacin said.

“Coach [Mark] Valderas has really been working with the kids, we have been devoting a lot of time to shooting,” Catonsville head coach Mike Mohler said.

The hot early perimeter shooting surprised the Wolverines.

“We were watching film of them and there were not that many threes, and once they started hitting them, we were like, ‘They are on fire today,’ so we had to get out on them,” Weeks said.

The Comets didn’t convert a trey in the second half and the Wolverines crept closer, thanks to increased defensive energy, led by Weeks.

Catonsville's Alexis Johnson sends a pass down court against Western Tech during the Comets' 38-31 victory Wednesday. Johnson finished with 10 points.

Weeks had five of her game-high six steals in the second half and the Wolverines forced 13 of the Comets’ 22 turnovers. Western Tech finished with 25 turnovers.

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“Go back to the old coaching adages, winning ugly beats losing ugly, so it’s a win, hopefully we get better, but we certainly can’t throw the ball away like we did tonight and expect to have success,” Mohler said.

After Weeks’ steal and short jumper cut the lead to 30-20 with 3:10 left in the third quarter, Catonsville’s Jordan Edwards got a steal and basket with 2:20 left and the Comets took that lead into the final quarter.

A perimeter bucket by Amyni Lewis cut the deficit to nine with 3:40 left in the fourth, but Edwards answered 40 seconds later with a putback for a 37-26 lead.

“[Edwards] made a couple of huge plays out there tonight, one on a really important putback,” Mohler said.

The Comets also forced the Wolverines into their third 30-second violation, one second before Weeks made a 3-pointer after the buzzer. Western Tech outscored the Comets 5-1 in the final three minutes on two free throws from Erynn Espinelli and a three-point play by Groce, but that was the closest it would get.

“We have lost a lot of close games this year because we can’t get that key bucket,” Western Tech coach Alan Lagon said.

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The Wolverines were only 6-for-19 from the foul line.

“Shooting has been our biggest problem all year,” Lagon said. “We had one game we lost by four and missed 15 free throws. This game, we lost by seven and missed how many free throws.’’

Weeks knows what the Wolverines need to do to turn the season around after losing seven of their first nine games.

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“Once we get defensive stops, if there is an automatic fast break it’s so it’s easy, so we just throw the ball up and it’s an easy layup,” she said. “You see glimpses of it during the games, but if we can do that for the entire game we will be solid.”

Mohler, whose squad improved to 5-3 with its second straight win, is just happy to end the 3-game losing streak to the Wolverines.

“We were on a bad streak there, so it’s nice to get one going the other way,” he said.

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Catonsville 38, Western Tech 31

Catonsville: Leah Vacin 10, Alexis Johnson 10, Ellie Altmann 7, Jordan Edwards 6, Emily Bartlett 3, Asaani Offer 1, Eden McPherson 1.

Western Tech: Danielle Weeks 13, Imani Groce 11, Amyni Lewis 3, Erynn Espineli 2, Peyten Cox 2

Halftime: 22-11 Cat.


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