Long Reach went into Monday night’s game against Glenelg ready to send a message to everyone in the county.
“We played with a chip on our shoulder tonight,” said Lightning coach Kelli Cofield after her team came from behind to get the 38-35 win. “Every night we’re looking to make sure people take notice of Long Reach.”
The two met on the Gladiators home floor during the team’s season-opener over a week ago. During the outing, Glenelg had its way with Long Reach and came out with the 55-21 victory.
Since the loss, the Lightning earned back-to-back wins against Reservoir and Marriotts Ridge, and in the two games allowed just 73 points combined. Long Reach continued its defensive prowess Monday.
The Gladiators opened up with a 13-8 lead after the first quarter, but the Lightning limited Glenelg to only eight baskets through the final three quarters.
They created 17 Glenelg turnovers and translated that into 14 points.
“Our girls played a great game tonight, both offensively and defensively,” Cofield said. “We knew that they weren’t 30 points better than us.”
However the Gladiators controlled most of the contest and didn’t give up the lead until the final minute of the game. They entered halftime with the 21-15 advantage, as Julia Wolfrey and Jessica Foster, who led the Gladiators offensively, garnered most of their points in the first half of play.
Long Reach inched closer to the lead in the third quarter, thanks to sophomore Kiana Williams and junior Devon Williams, who accounted for 11 of the 14 Lightning points in the quarter. Although Kiana Williams did sit for a large portion of the third due to foul trouble, she managed to knock down two three-pointers to help cut the lead to 30-29 entering the fourth.
The Gladiators struggled to find a basket in the final eight minutes, only netting two shots from the floor in the period.
It allowed Long Reach to ride Kiana Williams’ hot hand. With 40 seconds remaining in the game, she finally gave the Lightning the lead with another made three. Then senior Ifeoma Ezimako extended the lead to 38-35 with two clutch free throws late.
Glenelg had two final looks from range to tie it, but could not connect, resulting in its first loss of the year.
“We didn’t play the best game when we saw them at their place,” added Cofield. “And by their admission, they were looking beyond us to their game against (Centennial).”
Neither team shot particularly well, with the Gladiators shooting almost 32 percent from the floor, and the Lightning shooting nearly 36 percent.
Wolfrey finished the day with a team-high nine points, while Foster and Chelsea Henggeler each recorded eight points in the outing.
Kiana Williams had a day for Long Reach. Not only did she hit the go-ahead basket, but finished with a game-high 21 points, connecting on 4-for-9 from three-point range, while also tallying four rebounds and five steals. Devon Williams ended the night with nine points and five rebounds.
Long Reach and Glenelg are both back home on Wednesday, with the Lightning taking on Atholton and the Gladiators facing off against the Eagles.
Long Reach 38, Glenelg 35 (Monday, Dec. 14)
LR (3-1, 3-1): K. Williams 21, D. Williams 9, Joyce 4, Briggs-Hall 2, Ezimako 2.
G (3-1, 3-1): Wolfrey 9, Foster 8, Henggeler 8, Mattis 5, Butera 3, Twigg 2.
Half: 21-15 G.
R (2-2, 2-2): Wilson 18, Dorn 7, Dudzinski 5, Tiller 5, Schuster 1.
MH (2-2, 2-2): S. Devine 10, LeConte 7, Demek 5, Lybrook 4, M. Devine 3, Williams 2.
Half: 11-10 MH.