Long Reach versus Glenelg Howard County girls basketball game on Friday, Jan. 27 in Columbia.
Last season Glenelg knocked Long Reach out of the playoffs en route to clinching a 3A state title. And on Friday, with a week to prepare for the matchup, the Lighting were ready to get some revenge on the defending champs.
"They are an experienced group so I wasn't really concerned with us being ready to play, but Glenelg they are defending state champs. I was really most proud of the laser focus they came in with with the opponent that we had," said Long Reach coach Kelli Cofield. "We knew we would have to play our best ball and I think everybody shot the ball well, especially in the first three quarters. I think the biggest thing is that as a team is we played [well] defensively. They followed the game plan. It was fun to watch."
The Lightning (5-0 county, 14-2) opened up with the game's first points and never withheld the lead from then on, ultimately defeating the visiting Gladiators (1-4, 10-5), 56-31.
"It felt good to get a win, because last year they knocked us out of the playoffs," Swann said. "We took it as a learning experience and we tried to get better off of that and work harder."
After getting her studying done for midterms, Swann headed straight to the gym so she could get more shots in leading up to the matchup. Her stroke benefited, as Swann led her team with a game-high 24 points, while knocking down five shots from outside the perimeter.
"You know what? I loved it, but I am not surprised, because she puts in the work," Cofield said. "Those shots were not going in by accident. She stays after, she gets out in training and I am just happy to see it. She puts in the work for it. She deserves every one of those. One of the hardest working kids I know."
Swann started off the night with a three, which put her team up, 4-0, early in the first quarter. Both teams started off the night slow offensively, but Glenelg really struggled holding on to the ball. Its first four possessions resulted in a turnover and totaled 13 turnovers in the first half.
"We are just being careless with the ball. Every possession matters and 27 turnovers tonight, 31 the other game and we just need to realize we need to take care of the ball," said Gladiators coach Chris Beil. "Our goal coming in to the game is to get a shot every possession and I don't think we got a shot off until the four-minute mark in the first quarter. Give credit to their defense but a lot of turnovers were on us just throwing the ball away."
Glenelg's Jess Foster hit a long-ranged three to cut the deficit, 10-7, at the beginning of the second quarter, but Long Reach started knocking down its shots and pulled away toward the end of the half.
Swann and Kiana Williams made back-to-back three's to end the second quarter, including Williams' buzzer-beater from distance, which pushed the cushion to 20 points entering the second half.
"I think we are peaking, because we are doing really good," Swann said. "We're working together and we know our strengths and weaknesses for each other. We're pretty athletic."
Glenelg started the third quarter with three consecutive turnovers and was limited to one basket in the first six minutes, which allowed Long Reach to slowly build on top of its large lead.
The Gladiators entered the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run, with Foster extending the stretch to nine points in the opening minutes. However the Lightning responded with a 9-0 run of their own, which ultimately put the game out of reach.
"We've been trying to switch out, because Jess can shoot when she comes on the court, so we wanted to make sure where she was at all times," Cofield said. "They also have [Julia Wolfrey] down there who is big on the post, so we wanted to make sure where their scorers were, commit to help, but I think they followed the game plan, especially the defensive game plan to a tee so I was really proud of that."
With the deficit ballooning early in the third quarter, Beil subbed in most of his bench, which played solid minutes down the stretch. But ultimately, Glenelg was held to a season-low 31 points and dropped their third consecutive game.
"Our reserves they did a great job out there. I thought they came out with intensity and fire that my starting lineup did not have and we may have new starters next week," Beil said. "Right now they need to look in the mirror. After this game I didn't say anything. It's on them. I hope that my seniors will bring the team together, and coaches have been preaching the same thing every day and every practice and we need to look in the mirror and be accountable."
Foster led her team with 12 points, Wolfrey followed with five.
Kiana Williams recorded 13 points for Long Reach, while Devon Williams, Arianna Briggs-Hall and Emily Joyce added nine, six and four points, respectively.
The Lightning hope to keep the momentum going as the final weeks of the regular season conclude. If the Lightning win-out the rest of the way, they will clinch a county title.
"The girls have been talking about it and they were trying to do the math, and I just say, let's take it one game at a time and the county championship will happen if it happens," Cofield added. "We just want to win every week and hopefully that county champs will come to fruition. This is the most successful we've been as a [program]. This is our second seventh-game winning streak. We started off the season with seven games, last year we had seven games before the playoffs so they are just experiencing success and watching them work hard and experience that is gratifying."
The seven-day break between games did not affect the Lions perfect season. In fact, they were even more impressive Friday in their win over the visiting Mustangs, as they recorded their second-straight 90-point outing en route to their 14th straight victory.
Marriotts Ridge made the opening bucket of the game, but Howard took over from then on as Sam Lewis led a 14-0 run, which ultimately gave the Lions a 21-10 advantage after the first eight minutes.
They held the Mustangs to just four points in the second quarter, while offensively exploded for 27 points.
As a team Howard made 30 of 48 from the field (63 percent), including 9 of 16 (56 percent) from 3-point range.
Lewis, who had been sidelined for the past few games due to a knee injury, got back her shooting touch, making an astounding 5 of 6 shots from behind the arc to lead Howard with 19 points. Courtney Furr (15 points) also had an efficient night, hitting 5 of 7 from the field, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Taylor Addison continued her productive season, notching a double-double after pulling down 11 rebounds to go along with 14 points, six assists and two steals. Jenny Kinsey added six points and six assists for the Lions.
Sarah and Caroline Blalock led the way for the Mustangs, finishing with 12 and nine points, respectively.
Marriotts Ridge hopes to put an end to its three-game losing skid Feb. 1, as it hosts Glenelg, while Howard will stay home to face Reservoir. Both games are slated for 5:30 p.m.
Ho (5-0, 14-0): Lewis 19, Furr 15, Addison 14, Scott 12, Jones 6, Kinsey 6, Sagi 5, Eich 5, M. Sanchez-Henry 4, Malagar 4
MR (2-3, 11-5): S. Blalock 12, C. Blalock 9, H. Morath 6, Quinn 3, Sullivan 2, E. Morath 2, Bergquist 2.
Half: 48-14, Howard.
Reservoir 45, Oakland Mills 33
The Gators won their fifth-straight and sixth in their last seven games Friday after defeating the visiting Scorpions.
Reservoir took a six-point lead after the first quarter and entered the half with a 21-13 advantage.
Kayla Wilson had another productive night for the Gators, as she hit several big shots down the stretch and stayed composed despite getting into foul trouble early. She and teammate Nia Powell led all scorers with 17 points.
Powell continued her dominance on the boards, as she pulled down 16 rebounds — nine on the offensive glass, added two blocks and two steals to go along with terrific interior defense played against Oakland Mills' tough bigs, Aislynn Riggs, Kyrah Pacheco and Khayla Rudd.
Emily Dorn added seven points, nine rebounds, two assists and one steal, while doing an excellent job for Reservoir in breaking the Scorpions pressure. Haley Tiller chipped in with two points and a steal, and again had an impressive defensive performance, holding Oakland Mills' prolific guard Marley Grenway to just five points. Cassidy Pham finished with two points and three rebounds, while Natalie Verna recorded three assists and two huge charges taken.
"Very rough, physical game," said Gators coach Deb Taylor. "We were missing our third post Greta Schuster [illness] and Juli Hancock did a very nice job filling in with quality minutes. Our passing was excellent and only 11 turnovers in the game."
Pacheco and Riggs led the way for Oakland Mills, scoring seven points apiece.
Both teams resume play Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m., with the Scorpions hosting Hammond and Reservoir visiting undefeated Howard.
Re (5-0, 7-8): Wilson 17, Powell 17, Dorn 7, Tiller 2, Pham 2.
OM (0-5, 7-8): Pacheco 7, Riggs 7, Grenway 5, Burns 5, Lightfoot 4, Eldridge 3, Brown 2.
Half: 21-13, Reservoir.
Centennial 52, Hammond 44
The Eagles won their third straight game after defeating the visiting Golden Bears Friday night.
Freshman guard Rasa Welsh was the catalyst for Centennial, scoring a career-high 17 points to lead her team in the eight-point victory.
The Eagles jumped out to a 13-5 lead after the first quarter, but Hammond picked up their shooting touch in the following eight minutes, draining four shots from behind the 3-point arc, which helped cut the deficit, 25-21 at halftime.
Centennial slightly outscored the Golden Bears, 27-23, in the second half but it was enough to cement the win.
Both teams struggled from the foul line, as Hammond made 12 of 23 (52 percent), while the Eagles hit 11 of 25 of their free throws — good for 44 percent.
Sophomores Ashley Molz and Chandler Worthy followed Welsh offensively with 15 and 10 points, respectively, while Hailey Hamshey and Mary Grace Lambert chipped in with eight and two points, respectively.
Sophomores Taylor Liguori and Imani Reid led the Golden Bears with 11 and eight points, respectively.
Both teams are back in action Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. Centennial will host Atholton, while Hammond travels to Oakland Mills.
Ha (0-5, 3-12): Liguori 11, Reid 8, G. Abel 7, Mesol 6, McInerney 5, Allen 5, D. Abel 2.
Half: 25-21, Centennial.
Mt. Hebron 57, River Hill 40
The Vikings haven't won more than two games in a row all season, but on Friday with their victory over the visiting Hawks it marked their third consecutive win.
Mt. Hebron jumped out to an 18-4 lead after the first quarter after limiting River Hill to just two baskets in the first eight minutes. Both were scored by freshman Saniha Jackson, who finished the game with seven points.
River Hill stormed back in the following eight minutes to cut the deficit to 10 at halftime, but the Vikings dominated the third quarter and limited the Hawks to just one made basket. They entered the fourth with a 39-24 advantage, and hit their free throws in the fourth to ice the win.
Again, Mt. Hebron was propelled by their aggressive defense and balanced offense. It was the seventh straight game the Vikings held the opposition to less than 50 points, while offensively eight different players made the stat sheet. Satori Valentine and Meredith Williams led Mt. Hebron with 12 points apiece. Shane Devine followed with nine points, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds and four assists. Eve Chase added eight points and four rebounds, while Maura Devine chipped in with seven points and three steals.
Freshman Kennedy Clark and sophomore Lexi Thielemann led River Hill with eight points apiece, while Sara Dawitt chipped in with seven.
Mt. Hebron is back on the floor Monday, hosting Westminster for a 5:30 p.m. game, while the Hawks are back in action Feb. 1 against Wilde Lake.
MH (4-1, 8-6): Valentine 12, Williams 12, S. Devine 9, Chase 8, M. Devine 7, Demek 4, Krell 3, Schaaf 2.
RH (0-5, 3-11): Clark 8, Thielemann 8, Dawitt 7, S. Jackson 7, E. Jackson 6, Wesche 2, Masker 2