Atholton sophomore Kayla Beckwith talks about the Raiders’ 54-38 win over Hammond on Jan. 18.
An Atholton team that has struggled with slow starts this winter managed to flip the script against visiting Hammond on Thursday afternoon.
The Raiders, behind some inspired play from sophomore Kayla Beckwith, opened the game on a 10-1 run and never slowed down the rest of the way en route to a 54-38 victory. Beckwith finished with a team-high 16 points and Atholton (3-5, 5-8) won its second straight county game.
“Coach has really been talking to us about starting out [fast] from the jump and being the team to put the other team in the hole,” Beckwith said. “We wanted to like start out fast so that we didn’t have to play catch up and could keep building on top of our lead.”
Beckwith ended up scoring 12 of the Raiders’ first 19 points, converting a mix of lay ups and jump shots. Alexandra Hargrett (12 points) also started fast with seven points of her own during that opening stretch.
Then, as the game progressed, Atholton’s other pieces got going as well, with Christianna Kelley (11 points), Bryce Bathras (6) and Zhuri Cannon (5) all providing key baskets as the team extended its lead. Coach Julia Reynold said having everyone healthy, after both Beckwith and Bathras had been in and out of the line-up since winter break because of illness, makes a big difference.
“It was nice to finally have everybody out there together, and I actually was worried Zhuri wasn’t going to play because she’s been out sick this week. But to have a full team, I think it just naturally brings everyone closer together,” Reynold said. “It allows us to put people in the respective positions that they are most comfortable and I think it showed in our play today.”
On the other side, Hammond (2-5, 5-5) got a game-high 23 points from Imani Reid but was unable to build on the team’s 57-10 victory over Patterson Mill on Tuesday. The Golden Bears fell behind by double digits by the midway point of the second quarter and never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
In the second half when Hammond appeared like it might make a run following a 3-pointer by Ashlyn McInerney (9 points) temporarily cut the team’s deficit to 33-24 with 5:07 left in the third quarter, Atholton answered right back.
The Raiders ended up closing the quarter on a 9-4 run to go back up by 14 points.
Coming off a victory over Oakland Mills last Friday, Reynold said she was pleased to see her team keep the momentum going.
“I think as we start bringing everyone together and get a chance to build that chemistry on the court, you can see everything else starting to work for us,” she said. “The other night was a big win and I think you can see that confidence growing.”
Atholton will return to action on Friday against River Hill on the road, while Hammond hosts Howard.
Atholton 54, Hammond 38
A (3-5, 5-8): Beckwith 16, Hargrett 12, Kelley 11, Bathras 6, Cannon 5, Sowah 2, Kim 2.
Ha (2-5, 5-5): Reid 23, McInerney 9, Lindsay 2, Burns 2, Clark 2.
Kellie Johnson (13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals) and Jess Foster (10 points) led the Gladiators on the way to the non-county victory. Other standouts were Olivia LePage, who returned from injury to score 8 points, and Abby Gillespie (8 points, 3 rebounds and 3 blocks). Alex Anderson added 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.
G (5-2, 10-2): Johnson 13, Foster 10, Gillespie 8, LePage 8, LaPort 2, Coburn 2, Arterburn 2.