For some teams, a two-week layoff might be an obstacle. For Long Reach heading into Friday night’s game against Atholton, the holiday break was the perfect chance to hit the reset button.
After finishing the first month of the season under .500, Long Reach came out like a rejuvenated team against the Raiders — cruising to a 62-47 victory behind big games from seniors Lyric Swann (22 points) and Haley Thompson (13 points, 10 rebounds).
“We had a lot of tough opponents in December and, honestly, we were really happy to get that month over with. That break allowed us to get together, bond off the court a little bit, and I think find ourselves,” said Long Reach coach Kelli Cofield, whose team had not played since a loss to Old Mill on Dec. 19. “Tonight’s game, being able to open things up like we are used to doing, was important. It’s a confidence builder.”
Atholton (2-8) grabbed an early advantage, leading 8-7 midway through the first quarter, but it was all Long Reach (3-3) after that. The Lightning closed the first quarter on a 13-4 run and never trailed again.
Thompson, who set season highs in both points and rebounds, played a critical role on the interior as the Lightning extended and maintained its advantage over the final three quarters. With starter Arianna Briggs-Hall sidelined with an ankle sprain, it was Thompson and fellow forward Mya Proctor (season-high 6 points and 13 rebounds) that picked up the slack.
“With Ari being out, we knew that we needed to step up to the plate. Atholton has two very good and aggressive posts down low, so that was one of the main things we needed to focus on,” Thompson said. “We weren’t as much nervous, we just knew we needed to step up and show what we can really do.”
On the other side, consistency over a full four quarters continues to plague the Raiders according to coach Julia Reynold. For stretches, Atholton went toe-to-toe with Long Reach and put together a handful of extended runs.
Both Zhuri Cannon (20 points) and Alex Hargrett (13 points) did their part by surpassing their season scoring averages, while the Raiders as a team cut their deficit to 10 points in both the third and fourth quarters. Ultimately, however, Long Reach was able to answer every push.
“I think for us it’s all about consistency and we have to avoid the mental lapses. We get going and then there’s a couple breakdowns, turnovers, and then all of a sudden the momentum swings,” Reynold said. “It’s a game of runs and right now we are allowing a few too many runs to go the other team’s way.”
Jaelyn Swann also had a big game in the victory for the Lightning with 11 points. She and her sister Lyric combined to hit four 3-pointers.
Long Reach 62, Atholton 47
LR (3-2, 3-3): L. Swann 22, Thompson 13. J. Swann 11, Proctor 6, Richardson 5, Streeter 5, Ford 1.
A (0-5, 2-8): Cannon 20, A. Hargrett 13, Sowah 8, Ruley 4, M. Hargrett 2.
Half: 31-21 LR.
Reservoir 49, Mt. Hebron 45
After trailing by as many as nine points, the Gators prevailed thanks to a big fourth quarter. Abby Bailey scored a season-high 15 points, including 11 in the final period, to go along with seven rebounds.
Tiffany Hooker (12 points, 4 assists) and Emily Dorn (11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 steals) also had big games for Reservoir (4-1, 7-2).
“These girls never believe they are out of it … they just stay with it,” Reservoir coach Deb Taylor said. “We encouraged all the girls to trust their teammates and it showed in the fourth. I’m so proud of them.”
Natalie Verna also played a key role in the win, locking down defensively down the stretch and hitting a big second-half 3-pointer.
Mt. Hebron’s Tori Valentine led all scorers with 24 points and was a major reason the Vikings led 37-30 entering the final quarter.
Re (4-1, 7-2): Bailey 15, Hooker 12, Dorn 11, Davis 6, Verna 3, Moultrie 2.
MH (2-3, 4-5): Valentine 24, Oliver 6, Rodriguez 6, Williams 4, Chase 3, Dixon 2.
Half: 19-18 MH.
Howard 62, Centennial 38
The Lions got double-digit scoring efforts from Anii Harris (18 points), Lauryn Russell (16) and Gabby Scott (12) on the way to earning the victory over the Eagles.
Howard outscored Centennial 18-5 in the fourth quarter to pull away.
Tori Pearson (14 points and 12 rebounds) led the way for the Eagles in the loss.
Ho (4-1, 8-1): Harris 18, Russell 16, Scott 12, Malagar 9, Sanchez-Henry 4, Fritz 3.
C (2-3, 4-4): Pearson 14, Anderson 8, Dossett 6, Molz 4, Reese 3, Urquiaga 2, Jackson 1.
Half: 28-23 Ho.
Oakland Mills 52, Marriotts Ridge 32
The Scorpions stayed undefeated, putting three players in double figures. Marley Grenway led the way with 17 points, including five made 3-pointers.
OM (5-0, 9-0): Grenway 17, Washington 11, Scott-Pearson 10, King 8, Riggs 6.
MR (2-2, 4-5): Bryan 8, Conroy 8, Morath 6, Noll 4, Miller 2, Crawford 2, Cooke 2.
Half: 28-18 OM.
River Hill 57, Glenelg 30
Aniyha Smith (17 points), Kennedy Clark (14) and Emily Masker (14) all scored in double figures to help pace the Hawks to the runaway victory over the Gladiators.
RH (3-2, 6-4): Smith 17, Clark 14, Masker 14, Jackson 9, Heitzmann 2, Thompson 1.
G (1-4, 2-7): Hirsch 9, Tolbert 8, Coburn 4, Anderson 4, Salafia 3, LePage 2.
Half: 28-9 RH.
Hammond 50, Wilde Lake 23
Imani Reid scored 16 points, while Jocelyn Fogle was right behind her with 13 points and nine rebounds, as the Golden Bears improve to 6-2 overall. Reid added five assists, Nyelle Allen had 12 points, and Taylor Liguori had seven points and four assists.
In the loss, Kalani Corkeron led the Wildecats with 11 points.
Ha (3-1, 6-2): Reid 16, Fogle 13, Allen 12, Liguori 7, Julius-Khumbah 2.
WL (0-5, 1-7): Corkeron 11, Richards 4, Swaby-Rowe 2, Zimmerman 2, Floyd 2, Mullican 2.
Half: 33-13 Ha.
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports