For first the four minutes and 33 seconds of the Lansdowne-Perry Hall girls basketball game, the Lansdowne gymnasium was completed silent.
But when Samiya Esema scored the game’s 19th point, with 3:27 left in the first quarter, pulling the Vikings within one, 10-9, the crowd erupted with applause and the game was stopped.
It was the end of quiet serenity for the second annual KL19 Silent Night in honor of former Lansdowne student-athlete Kayla Linton, who passed away on Jan. 28, 2017.
Linton died of cardiac arrest during her senior year at age 17, after a severe bout of the flu.
She played basketball, ran track and played on the lacrosse team, where she wore number 19.
Money raised from T-shirts, with KL19 on them, and donations will go towards a college scholarship worth $1,900 for a Lansdowne male and female student-athlete.
Last year, Jordyn Goodman and Harry Trinh won the scholarships.
The only thing quieter than the fans for the first few minutes was the ticking of the 30-second shot clock.
Both teams shot early and off in the shot clock and in the end it was Perry Hall (7-6) who filled the basket the most as they prevailed, 80-61.
“Our shots were hitting, so our players were on tonight. Our shots were sinking,” said Kara Dietrich, who scored a game-high 30 points. “This is probably the highest we’ve ever scored.”
Casey Bender (18) and Mary Tolentino (12) also scored in double figures for the Gators, who changed their game plan under assistant coach Kelly Miller.
Miller was running the team for head coach Linda Caccavalla, who was attending a funeral.
“The game changed. We usually play a slow, controlled type of game, but we have the players where if they want to play an up-tempo style, we can go to an up-tempo style,” Miller said. “I just changed the personnel around a little bit so that we could play the fast game and it turned out that our girls were hitting all their shots today.”
Perry Hall led 16-15 after the first quarter, thanks to 10 points, including two 3-pointers, by Dietrich.
Bender added a 3-pointer in the second quarter and Tolentino scored nine points and drilled two treys when the Gators extended their lead to 39-33 at halftime.
“Kara, Mary and Casey have always been there for us the entire year, they are pretty much the backbone of the team, so when the game got kind of close early, they stepped up and we came home with a victory,” Miller said.
Esema scored Lansdowne’s first nine points and the junior admitted she was motivated to do well.
“The last game, we came from a loss, so I went home and I did some kind of thinking and thought, we do need to change to make me not only a better player, but a better person on the court, not for myself, but also for my teammates, to benefit them,” Esema said.
“This is the best game we’ve played together because we all played as one unit and one team, there was no one versus five, it was five versus five and we were all together. We win together and we lose together.”
Perry Hall poured it on in the third quarter when they scored 26 points and Dietrich was again the catalyst.
She scored 13 points in the quarter and was 5 of 5 from the foul line.
Six other players, including Tolentino (3-pointer), Bender, Lily Hines, Chelsea Masseaux, Amanda Butz and Brenna Ellenberger, also scored in the quarter as the Gators built their lead to 65-51.
Lansdowne coach Daishawna McNeil couldn’t help notice the Gators’ pinpoint shooting.
“There was nothing I could do with that,” she said. “I told them straight up in the locker room, they just had a better game today. Maybe, if we played them on a different day our results would be different, but they just had a really good game today.”
McNeil, who started the season as an assistant, but took over as head coach after the previous head coach resigned on Dec. 13, saw a different Lansdowne team, despite the loss that dropped them to 3-7.
“Honestly, I’ve never seen these girls come together this well,” McNeil said. “They’ve had a lot of uphill moments and I think today they started to hit their peak.”
Her team’s play aside, the coach, who graduated from Chesapeake High in 2014, was overwhelmed by the silent crowd in honor of Linton.
“This is my first year here and honestly, I’ve never experienced anything like this, the silence, it was really hard for me,” McNeil said. ‘It was really, really hard. It was actually beautiful.”
She wasn’t the only one caught up in the quiet moments.
“You know it is for a good cause and you want to put on a good show for everybody who came out to support the girl who passed away and it’s just a special feeling,” Dietrich said.
Esema, who was a freshman on JV the year Linton died, cherished the moment when she scored the 19th point.
“It felt nice to carry out the legacy that she had,” Esema said.