Glenelg's offense was sleep-walking through much of last night's game with Long Reach. But the Gladiators had a four-minute stretch that turned the game into a nightmare for the visiting Lightning.
Chrissy Starcher, Alli Biggs and Cheyenne Davidson sparked an early fourth-quarter run that helped No. 3 Glenelg defeat Long Reach, 52-44.
Glenelg (16-3, 11-2 Howard County), which also defeated Long Reach earlier in the season, was trying to rebound from a surprising Monday loss to county rival Atholton. The Gladiators struggled offensively in that game also, and coach Ciaran Lesikar thought his team might have been pressing too much early against Long Reach (10-7, 8-6).
"We were getting a lot of shots," Lesikar said. "We were just missing a lot of them."
They started hitting them at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Glenelg led the entire game but had that margin cut to four late in the third period before stretching to a 31-24 lead heading into the final quarter.
Starcher (12 points) made two free throws at the end of the third period and then hit a three-point shot 11 seconds into the fourth quarter. Biggs (12 points) followed with another three-pointer 32 seconds later to make it 37-24. Biggs then added a jumper before Davidson (13 points) made a three-point play, and Starcher hit a layup.
The Gladiators made their first five shots of the period after hitting only 12 of 33 through three quarters. They cooled off after that but finished nine of 13 from the field in the period.
"That [early run] gave us our boost," said Starcher, who scored seven points in the fourth quarter. "I think we finally realized that we needed to step it up a little."
Glenelg stretched the lead to 48-27 before Whitney Ward (17 points) and Timisha Gomez (13 points) sparked a Lightning run. Long Reach scored 17 of the game's last 21 points to make the final score close.
Turnovers cost both teams. Long Reach had 26 turnovers - 23 in the first three quarters - and had problems running its offense in the first half.
The Lightning made only four of 29 from the field in the first half, but Glenelg had just an 18-12 halftime lead thanks to numerous missed shots from inside of 10 feet and turnovers (25 overall).
Long Reach played better in the second half, using its speed and quickness to often disrupt the Glenelg offense.
"You can't come out against a good team and play half a game," Long Reach coach Kevin Broadus said. "That fourth-quarter [run] was it."