The message was simple for the Roland Park girls basketball team heading into the final quarter against the Institute of Notre Dame last night: Don't relax.
The Reds have faded late against the Indians several times, including a couple of weeks ago at Villa Julie.
No. 3 Roland Park finally reversed the trend, winning, 55-46, on the Indians' home court. It couldn't come at a better time for the Reds (19-3 overall, 7-2 league), who pulled into a tie for first with No. 2 St. Frances in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference Y Division standings.
"We played some great games down here but they always seem to pull it out against us in the past," said Reds coach Scott Buckley. "We were pretty determined. This game went pretty much the way the first game went, except we folded down the stretch [in the first game]."
In that meeting, Roland Park couldn't finish off the Indians, who rallied from a nine-point deficit at the start of the final quarter. Last night, the Reds built an 11-point advantage and didn't flinch when No. 8 IND again seemed ready to snatch the victory from Roland Park.
All-Metro forward Dani Kell, who had six points in the first meeting, led the Reds with 16 points, and Breyana Hall added 13 points and four rebounds in her first action since suffering a rib injury two weeks.
Chandrea Jones led all scorers with 25 points for IND (16-5, 6-3).
After IND got to within 38-32 on a score by Jones with 2:14 remaining in the third quarter, Brittany Kalkstein assisted Kell on a layup.
Kalkstein (seven points, seven rebounds) followed with a jumper, extending the Reds' lead to 42-32. A three-pointer by Amanda Hessinger gave Roland Park a 45-34 lead after the third quarter.
"We came out a lot stronger in the third and fourth quarters," said Kell, who also had six assists. We knew we couldn't let them back in the game. ... Once we got them down, there was no letting up."