In a game that featured some great passing, physical play from both sides and a lot of key coaching adjustments thanks to some foul trouble, Francis Scott Key girls basketball was able to weather the storm, fight off a scrappy Century comeback attempt and pick up a 66-49 win on Tuesday.
“Proud of our team and the way we kept our composure in the closing minutes,” FSK coach TJ Develin said.
With the Eagles’ frontcourt standouts hampered by foul trouble, sophomore guard Summer Brooks stepped up. Brooks finished with a game-high 22 points and was instrumental in holding off a second-half Century charge.
The game started off as a seemingly normal Francis Scott Key game. Using their “twin towers” Ally Mathis and Caroline Kohr, the Eagles dominated inside. The Eagles pulled down almost every rebound as Century struggled to box out. The second-chance points mixed with some physical play inside sparked a 17-5 run as the Eagles led by double digits at the end of the first quarter.
Multiple Eagles found themselves open for easy shots, something Develin has come to expect from his team this season.
“There’s been games where if you look at our box score, it’s like, who do you defend?” Develin said.
It was the second quarter when the strength of the Eagles became their biggest challenge. Mathis, who finished with 11 points, quickly found herself in foul trouble. From there, Century guard Mia Graff found her confidence.
With Mathis out and Kohr playing more conservatively to stay out of foul trouble herself, Graff was able to lead a small Century run late in the second quarter. Despite being down 10 at the half, Century coach Danielle Fieni was fired up as the score felt much closer.
The Knights came out with momentum starting the second half. Graff, who finished the game with 21 points was hot. The senior picked up right where she left off in the first half, driving inside, embracing contact and making tough shots for what was a stagnant half-court offense. Junior Harli Hamlett helped as well, creating transition baskets before the Eagles could get back in time to set up on defense.
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Late in the quarter, Mathis picked up another foul and key reserve Rayna Miller also got in foul trouble. The Eagle lead was trimmed down to nine and with their physical play seemingly neutralized, Francis Scott Key needed someone to step up.
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She knocked down two straight 3-pointers late in the quarter and helped push the Eagle lead back to double digits at the end of the third quarter.
Entering the final quarter, it seemed like Century still had a chance. The confidence in Fieni’s team grew after Mathis fouled out less than two minutes into the quarter. Mathis, now a spectator, was forced to find a different way to help her team as the Eagles scrambled to hold the lead.
“She could have gotten frustrated and whined but instead she changed her role,” Develin said. “It was awesome leadership from her.”
Brooks gave her something to cheer for as she helped lead the Eagles down the stretch. She did whatever was needed, knocking down 3-pointers, absorbing contact to get to the free throw line and even communicating defensive calls from Develin as they looked to stop Graff and the Knights.
“I feel like my leadership was there, as a team we excelled very well and did what we had to do to beat them,” Brooks said.
The Eagles finally pulled away and left with a 17-point win. Develin knows this was key for his team as they learn to keep their composure and win tough road games.
“We held it strong in that fourth quarter,” he said. “We finished and we finished together.”