On the road Wednesday against Hammond in a game with significant 2A South playoff seeding implications, Marriotts Ridge finally broke through in a tight game.
The Mustangs, who came in having lost all eight of their contests decided by seven points or less this winter, flipped the script and made the big plays in crunch time against the Golden Bears on the way to earning a 48-45 victory.
“It feels amazing to finally be on the other end of one of these, and the girls really deserve it. They work so hard and night in and night out they come to battle, so to see them finish those big shots tonight was incredibly rewarding,” Marriotts Ridge coach Sarah Miller said. “Those plays that haven’t quite gone our way most of this season, tonight they did.”
Marriotts Ridge (5-7, 7-11) outscored Hammond (4-8, 8-9) by eight in the fourth quarter, turning a five-point deficit into the three-point victory. Emma Morath (season-high 18 points) and Emma Miller (10 points) each took turns leading the Mustangs’ offense throughout the game, but in crunch time it was a complete team effort that helped secure the win.
A 3-pointer by Kendall Bryan with just under three minutes left gave Marriotts Ridge the lead for good, 44-43. Later, in a one-possession game in the final minute, Jenna Kohler delivered a put-back basket to help increase the advantage.
And, over the final five minutes, the Mustangs held the Golden Bears to just two points — a pair of made foul shots from Taylor Liguori (15 points).
After trailing by as many as nine in the third quarter, Miller said the team got back to its game plan.
“We really just needed to take a breath and say ‘We got this.’ We really weren’t down by that much … we felt like we just needed to get our heads straight,” said Miller, who finished with her second game this season in double figures scoring.
On the other side, Hammond found itself battling consistency for the majority of the contest. The Golden Bears, celebrating senior night, put together several extended runs — including a 9-2 spurt in the first quarter and 12-2 run in the third.
But as the game progressed, Hammond was unable to sustain its momentum and that allowed Marriotts Ridge to stay close enough to pull things out in the end.
“This program hasn’t had a winning record in 16 seasons and I think that mentality is still something we are trying to overcome. We have these lulls in key moments and we just aren’t good enough to take plays off at any point,” Hammond coach Ryan Hudy said. “Tonight, I actually thought we got closer to where we need to be with our overall effort … it was much improved from the last couple games. But our lapses cost us.
“Marriotts Ridge clawed and scrapped the entire way and they deserved to win. They made more plays than we did at the end, it’s as simple as that.”
All four Hammond seniors did end up scoring eight or more points in the loss, including 10 from Imani Reid and a career-high eight from Tayla Julius-Khumbah to go along with team-high honors for Liguori.
Marriotts Ridge and Hammond are now tied with seven wins apiece in games that count toward playoff seeding. The two programs are battling it out for the third seed in Section I of the 2A South region, behind Oakland Mills and River Hill.The Mustangs have four regular season games remaining, while the Golden Bears have five.
Marriotts Ridge 48, Hammond 45
MR (5-7, 7-11): Morath 18, Miller 10, Noll 6, Conroy 4, Bryan 3, Kohler 3, Crawford 2, Colburn 2.
Ha (4-8, 8-9): Liguori 15, Reid 10, Julius-Khumbah 8, Allen 8, Fogle 3, Brown 1.
Half: 22-21 MR.
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports