Howard Forward Deonna Jones talks about the Lions’ 65-23 win over Reservoir on Friday, Feb. 2.
It took all of 10 seconds on Friday night for Howard to set the tone for its road match-up against Reservoir.
The Lions won the tip, made a couple passes around the perimeter and then found Courtney Furr for a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Howard (11-1, 17-1) never slowed down from there, racing to a 25-point lead by the end of the first quarter on the way to an eventual 65-23 victory over a Reservoir (8-4, 10-7) team that came in having won nine straight games.
“They have a very strong inside game and our plan was try to not let the ball get into them and I thought our girls effort was great, especially on the defensive end,”Howard coach Scott Robinson said. “Sure we made shots, and that helps, but effort for us was the difference I thought. When we bring that energy defensively, that’s when good things happen.”
Furr ended up finishing with a game-high 16 points, all coming in the first nine minutes of the game. She hit four 3-pointers during the team’s first-quarter surge, helping set the stage for what ended up being a 38-13 lead by halftime.
Taylor Addison (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Deonna Jones (9 points, 6 steals) also finished with big games for a Lions team that has now won nine straight games of their own.
Jones said ball movement and finding the hot hand, particularly Furr in the early stages, was the key to the fast start.
“We always tell them whenever they shoot like that, just to keep eating,” Jones said. “They share the ball pretty well, they’re not selfish. They know when they should get it inside and they know when they should take their right shots.”
On the other side, Emily Dorn scored nine points to lead the way for a Reservoir team that struggled to simply get into its offensive sets during the opening 10 minutes of the game. Howard threw a mix of full-court and half-court pressure at the Gators and generated steals that turned into lay ups and open jump shots.
“Their pressure is relentless and it’s at a speed that is hard to mimic in practice. As much as you prepare for it … it’s still just so different on game day,” Reservoir coach Deb Taylor said. “So you take that and combine it with the fact that they have weapons everywhere that play off one another very well, it’s just really hard to stop. They shot lights out tonight.”
The Gators did end up playing the Lions even in the second quarter, but things separated for good in the third. Howard outscored Reservoir 16-2 in the first six minutes out of halftime to create a running clock the rest of the way.
All 17 of Howard’s wins this winter have now come by at least 13 points, with the one blemish being a loss at the hands of Long Reach at the beginning of January. Since then, the Lions have gotten right back down to business.
“I think we are getting better and the hope is that we continue improving all the way up and through the playoffs,” Robinson said. “Right now we control our destiny with the region, being seeded first, and knowing that if we win out we will get that top seed. So that’s our focus, one game at a time and positioning ourselves for the playoffs.”
Reservoir will be back in action on Saturday at Tuscarora and Taylor says it’s a good chance to regain some confidence.
“We were 9-0 in January for a reason, and some of those were very tough games, so there is absolutely no shame of losing to a team of Howard’s quality. Sure, we would have liked to show up and compete a little more, but we can’t let it knock us off course,” she said. “We have a game in 24 hours and that will show what kind of character we have. Even though it’s a non-league game … it’s a chance to right the ship.”
After being held scoreless against Howard on Wednesday, Jess Foster exploded for 26 points to lead the Gladiators to a win that snaps their three-game losing skid. Kellie Johnson (10 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals) and Alex Anderson (2 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals) also had big games in the win for Glenelg.
G (7-5, 12-5): Foster 26, Johnson 10, LePage 7, LaPort 4, Anderson 2, Prezelski 2.