Howard junior forward Emileigh Scott about defending Centennial’s Kelly Simmons, working more offensively and the team's upcoming game against Glenelg. (Monica D'Ippolito/Baltimore Sun video)
Howard had its best defensive performance of the season Wednesday, limiting Centennial to its second lowest scoring mark of the year, while also doing a fantastic job of containing the Eagles leading scorer, Kelly Simmons, for most of the contest.
"I think Centennial runs such a good offense, they are really difficult to defend," said Lions coach Scott Robinson after the, 49-35 win. "(We) were kind of fortunate, after the holiday tournament we had a couple days to prepare for them. Kelly is just a really good post player, and a good perimeter player – she's just a good player – we tried to limit her the best we could. Their offense is just, click, click, click – so it's hard to defend. I was happy with our girls. It was our best defensive effort of the year by far."
Simmons, who did lead Centennial offensively with 13 points, couldn't establish a rhythm in the paint where she usually thrives. Instead, she found most of her offense hitting mid-range jumpers. Forward's Taylor Addison and Emileigh Scott did a great job for Howard in limiting the sophomore's touches inside.
"They matched me up on Kelly and she's a great post player and she can shoot obviously, she hit a lot of jumpers. We just tried to keep her off the boards and I thought we did a pretty good job," Scott said. "But we still got to keep playing hard against big people and little people."
In the first quarter the game went back and forth, as it saw four different lead changes. However, the Lions went into the second quarter holding a 12-11 lead, which they never unclenched for the remainder of the contest.
"We didn't start the game strong defensively, but I thought the biggest thing was in the first quarter they had six offensive rebounds and the last three quarters they only had one," Robinson said. "So I thought we did a really good job on the glass in the last three quarters."
Centennial played strong defense out on the perimeter, limiting one of Howard's best shooters in junior guard Sam Lewis. Lewis, virtually automatic from the three-point mark, hit one bucket from beyond the perimeter and ended with three points in the contest.
But the Lions biggest strength was highlighted Wednesday night – the depth of their roster. With the defense focused on Lewis, sophomore Courtney Furr and Scott stepped up and carried the Lions offensively, especially down the stretch.
"Sam Lewis, she is an excellent shooter and we saw that on film. I got to give Ashley (Molz) credit. I thought she did an excellent job of taking her out of the game," said Eagles coach Bobby Macheel. "Unfortunately, they have other players and that's the thing about them, they're balanced. They don't have one player; they're a great team. They made adjustments as well and attacked from other areas and did a good job of that. We have to work to be more balanced defensively. They're not a team where you can take one player out and are going to fold, so it was a good lesson for us that we can't be inconsistent in any area of the game, we have to be consistent everywhere."
Howard earned a 27-19 halftime lead, but then nearly blanked Centennial offensively in the third quarter. The Eagles hit just one bucket in the period with 26 seconds left, which came as the final points of the quarter.
"Our team defense was pretty good," Scott said. "We tried to shut down Kelly and Ally Driscoll. Jenny (Kinsey) did a really good job shutting down Ally and it was a great team effort overall. In practice they help us and in the game I just feel like we have to rebound, rebound, and shut out people."
The Eagles entered the fourth with an 18-point disadvantage. The hole would be too large to overcome and they ultimately suffered their third loss of the year and second in county play.
"I think sometimes it's effort for us," Macheel added. "I think the effort was there tonight for the most part. We have to be a little bit more consistent. We're up and down a little bit. Some possessions we look great and some possessions we just kind of totally break down. So we just got to work on being consistent and I think I saw some positives tonight, but we just got to keep working on it in practice."
Behind Simmons' 13 points, Molz chipped in with 10 points on the night to add to her great defensive performance. While for the Lions, Scott finished with a game-high 23 points, playing all but one minute of the game. Furr followed with 11 points, with Addison adding four points and 10 rebounds, while Kinsey did a little of everything, accumulating four points, six boards, three assists and three steals.
"I thought Courtney Furr had a great game and Emileigh Scott had another great game. The whole team had a great game, they really did," Robinson added, as his team prepares for another good matchup, going up against Glenelg on Friday. "It should be fun. We know it will be a hostile environment, so it will be fun going out there. I have a lot of respect for them, I really do."
The Gladiators garnered their ninth win of the season Wednesday, but the Gators put up a good fight against Glenelg, getting as close as two baskets late in the fourth quarter.
Julia Wolfrey led all scorers with 14 points on the night, as the Gladiators drained 16 field goals and went a productive 11-for-18 from the foul line.
Reservoir's Haley Tiller did a great job defensively on one of the leagues best scorers in Glenelg sophomore guard Jessica Foster. She finished with 10 points in the game, a few of which came at the free throw line, icing the game for the Gladiators.
Foster also made a key play at the end of the first half with Reservoir down by four with a chance to cut the lead to a basket before halftime. She took advantage of a Gator turnover, converting on a three-point play and extending Glenelg's advantage by seven heading into the third quarter.
The Gladiators added to their cushion in the third and held a, 37-21 lead entering the final eight minutes, but Reservoir inched its way back.
Tiller and freshman Natalie Verna each hit a big three that got the Gators within six with three minutes to go. But Reservoir couldn't manage to knock down the dagger to get them within a basket, and with time running down, had to start fouling, putting Glenelg on the foul line. The Gladiators hit its free throw's and ultimately came out with the 13-point win.
"I'm very pleased with how our girls responded entering the fourth," Taylor said. "We didn't quit, stayed tough on defense and fought our way back in the game."
Emily Dorn had a productive night for the Gators, despite playing with a facemask for the first time since breaking her nose. She recorded 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, while senior forward Mary Dudzinski had another strong all around game, finishing with nine points, four rebounds, three assists and helping the Gators break Glenelg's tough full-court press.
Bethany Arrington followed Wolfrey and Foster with six points, while Grace Butera and Kellie Johnson chipped in with five points each, respectively. Katie Twigg added four point in the game.
Glenelg is back on its home floor Friday, as it takes on undefeated Howard, while Reservoir will face River Hill.
G (7-1, 9-1): Wolfrey 14, Foster 10, Arrington 6, Butera 5, Johnson 5, Twigg 4, Henggeler 2.
R (2-5, 5-5): Dorn 10, Dudzinski 9, Verna 6, Tiller 3, Wilson 3, Powell 2.
River Hill 52, Oakland Mills 49 (Wednesday, Jan. 6)
The Hawks continued building on their winning streak Wednesday, narrowly defeating the visiting Scorpions.
Sydney Poindexter had one of her best games of the season, leading all scorers with 24 points for River Hill. While for Oakland Mills, seniors Ny'Jayah Lockwood and Theda Jackson continued to lead their team, combining for 32 of the Scorpions 49 points.
The victory gives the Hawks their third county win of the year, while also notching their fourth consecutive win and fifth victory in the last six games.
They will try and make it five straight Friday, when they head to Reservoir to take on the Gators. As for Oakland Mills, it hopes to register its second county win of the year when they head home to host Long Reach.
The Vikings evened their county record Wednesday night on their home floor after defeating the Mustangs.
Mt. Hebron limited Marriotts Ridge to only six buckets in the first half and took a eight-point lead into halftime.
Shane Devine led the Vikings with a game-high 21 points, but got 16 of her 21 in the second half of play. She also hit a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. As a team Mt. Hebron knocked down 14-of-23 from the charity stripe.
For the Mustangs, Sarah Blalock led them offensively with 14 points, followed by Caroline Blalcok who finished with seven points.
Marriotts Ridge had a productive fourth quarter, totaling 18 points in the period, after scoring 21 points in the first three quarters combined. As a team the Mustangs finished 11-of-20 from the foul line.
Marriotts Ridge is still looking for its first win of the year, but will try and get it Friday when it takes on Wilde Lake. Mt. Hebron is also back in action Friday, as it travels to Hammond for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
MH (4-4, 5-5): S. Devine 21, Lybrook 12, Williams 8, M. Devine 3, Demek 2, Oliver 2, Davis 2.
MR (0-7, 0-8): S. Blalock 14, C. Blalock 7, Hockensmith 4, Stepke 3.
Half: 22-14 MH.
Long Reach 51, Hammond 40 (Wednesday, Jan. 6)
The Lightning continued building on their successful start to the season with their first win of 2016.
Long Reach built on its lead in the second quarter, holding the Golden Bears to just five points in the period, allowing just one basket. Holding on to a 29-16 advantage entering halftime, the Lightning were able to hold on to the win, despite shooting just 7-for-20 from the foul line, including 2-for-6 in the fourth quarter.
However, Long Reach did an excellent job containing Hammond freshman phenom, Imani Reid, who finished with just seven points in the game. Instead, it was senior Shawnice King who led the Golden Bears offensively, registering a team-high 16 points on the night.
For the Lightning, freshman Lyric Swann continued her impressive play in her first year. She led all scorers with 17 points, followed by Kiana Williams with 10 points and Ariana Briggs-Hall with nine points.
Long Reach and Hammond are back on the floor Friday, with the Lightning heading to Oakland Mills and the Golden Bears going back home to take on Mt. Hebron.
LR (6-2, 6-2): L. Swann 17, K. Williams 10, Briggs-Hall 9, Thompson 4, Joyce 4, D. Williams 3, Malone 2.
Ha (3-4, 4-4): King 16, Reid 7, Liguori 6, Grenway 5, Howard 2.
Half: 29-16 LR.
Atholton 46, Wilde Lake 25 (Wednesday, Jan. 6)
The Raiders added to their perfect mark with a 21-point victory at Wilde Lake High School Wednesday.
The Wildecats continued to struggle offensively, as they didn't surpass single-digits in any quarter in the game. However, they did do a good job getting to the foul line, as they hit 9-of-16 from the charity stripe.
Brynn Drury finished the night as Wilde Lake's leading scorer, recording 11 points, followed by Ka'Marie Robinson, who added seven points.
For Atholton, Caitlyn Burmester returned from injury to lead the team with 12 points, while Ryan Jones pitched in with 11 points on the night, followed by Meaghan Quinn with 10 points.
The Raiders head home to take on Centennial, while Wilde Lake will travel to Marriotts Ridge Friday to face off against the Mustangs.
A (6-0, 8-0): Burmester 12, Jones 12, Quinn 10, Cannon 5, Owens 3, Bathras 2, Hart 2.