For 10 minutes on Thursday night against first-place Oakland Mills, Marriotts Ridge played as close to flawless basketball as a team possibly can.
The Mustangs got stops on the defensive end, rebounded the basketball and made tough shots all over the floor. The result was an extended 27-3 run between the end of the second quarter and the majority of the third that turned a nine-point deficit into a 17-point lead, setting the stage for a statement 56-46 victory.
“Everything we’ve been trying to execute throughout this season, it all came together during that stretch. Baskets that usually rim out, were falling. Balls that usually bounce away, we were grabbing … and the biggest thing was we made stop after stop on defense,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Sarah Miller, whose team had lost against Oakland Mills 52-32 in early January.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for that to happen and all of a sudden everything just finally clicked.”
Emma Morath led the way with a career-high 21 points to go along with 13 rebounds for a Marriotts Ridge (6-7, 8-11) team that earned its second victory in as many nights.
Morath said that the momentum the team established by defeating Hammond, 48-43, a day earlier definitely carried over.
“I think going into this game we were really hoping for a win, especially [after] last night’s game that we pulled out a nice victory. I think that we had good team morale at that point,” she said. “We had a positive mindset and were really pumped going into it.”
Mallory Conroy added 10 points for the Mustangs, who made nine shots from the foul line in the final seven minutes to help hold off a fourth-quarter push by the Scorpions.
Oakland Mills (11-3, 15-3) got as close as six points with 4:54 remaining in regulation, but Marriotts Ridge buckled down from there to re-extend its lead.
In the early stages it was Aislynn Riggs (15 points) and Marley Grenway (11 points) that did the heavy lifting offensively for the Scorpions en route to building a 25-16 advantage with 3:39 remaining in the opening half. But once Marriotts Ridge grabbed the momentum, it didn’t let it go until it had built an insurmountable cushion.
“In the end, they were able to sustain 32 minutes of what they do best, while we were only able to put together 16 to 20 minutes. Some of those things we have maybe gotten away with at times this season, tonight they exploited them,” Oakland Mills coach Walt Hagins said. “By the time we finally made adjustments to the way they were pounding it inside and cutting to the basket, we were in too big of a hole.”
Marriotts Ridge’s run to close the second quarter ended up being 11-1 over a span of three minutes to send the team into the break up by one point, 27-26. That strong play spilled right over into the third quarter, with the Mustangs scoring the first 16 points of the period.
It wasn’t until there was just 37 seconds left in that third quarter that Oakland Mills scored its first points of the half courtesy of a foul shot from Riggs.
Coming off a Hammond game where her team had allowed the Golden Bears to open the second half on a 12-2 run, Miller said there was a lot of emphasis placed on being the aggressor this time around.
“We came in, were super focused and talked a lot about energy and coming out in that second half fired up,” Miller said. “For us, it was taking what happened yesterday early in that second half and figuring out what we needed to do in order for that not to happen again. And I think our girls learned from that because they were excited and they were ready.”
The back-to-back county wins are a first this season for Marriotts Ridge and the team will try to keep things going on Friday against Glenelg. On the other side, the loss drops Oakland Mills a game behind Long Reach (12-2, 12-4) in the county standings.
The Scorpions are now tied with Howard (11-3, 15-3) with two county contests remaining.
With a game against Hammond on tap for Friday, Hagins said his girls have to have a short memory.
“It doesn’t get any easier, that’s for sure,” he said. “That’s going to be a hungry Hammond team. So we have less than 24 hours to go home, regroup and play basketball.”
Marriotts Ridge 56, Oakland Mills 46
MR (6-7, 8-11): Morath 21, Conroy 10, Bryan 6, Lee 6, Colburn 4, Kohler 4, Noll 2, Crawford 2, Miller 1.
OM (11-3, 15-3): Riggs 15, Grenway 11, Scott-Pearson 6, Eldridge 6, Washington 5, King 3.
Half: 27-26 MR.
Long Reach 62, Atholton 44
The Lightning won their 11th straight county game, led by Lyric Swann’s 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals. On a layup in the fourth quarter, Swann became the all-time leading scorer in Long Reach program history — eclipsing the 1,406 points that Timisha Gomez (2004) scored in her career.
Swann is now at 1,414 points and counting with three regular season games remaining before playoffs.
Rebecca Ford also had a big game with a career-high 17 points. Long Reach’s win, combined with Oakland Mills losing to Marriotts Ridge, puts the Lightning alone in first place in the county standings with two league games left.
Natalie Blair and Alex Hargrett were the leaders in the loss for Atholton with 15 points apiece.
LR (12-2, 12-4): L. Swann 22, Ford 17, Streeter 9, J. Swann 8, Richardson 4, Thompson 2.
A (2-12, 4-15): Blair 15, A. Hargrett 15, Kidd 6, Sowah 4, M. Hargrett 3, Kaschak 1.
Half: 27-18 LR.
Howard 47, Centennial 32
The Lions outscored the Eagles 16-5 in the fourth quarter to pull away for the victory, getting double-digit scoring efforts from Marisa Sanchez-Henry (16 points, six rebounds) and Anii Harris (11 points). Emily Durkee also tied a season high with eight points, while Gabby Scott (7 points and 8 rebounds) and Camille Malagar (5 points, 6 rebounds) chipped in with solid efforts as well.
Rasa Welsh and Brook Anderson scored eight points apiece to pace Centennial.
Ho (11-3, 15-3): Sanchez-Henry 16, Harris 11, Durkee 8, Scott 7, Malagar 5.
C (5-8, 9-9): Welsh 8, Anderson 8, Molz 5, Pearson 5, Pellegrini 4, Dossett 2.
Mt. Hebron 52, Reservoir 42
The Vikings kept the momentum going from its win over Howard at the end of last week, outscoring the Gators 11-5 in the fourth quarter to pull away. Tori Valentine (22 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds) continued her stellar play, while Erin Dixon and Meredith Williams (8 rebounds) joined her in double figures scoring with 10 points apiece.
Emily Dorn (16 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists) and Tiffany Hooker (12 points) were the leaders in the loss for Reservoir.
MH (8-6, 12-8): Valentine 22, Dixon 10, Williams 10, Rodriguez 6, Oliver 2, Chase 2.
Re (10-5, 13-6): Dorn 16, Hooker 12, Bailey 6, Davis 3, Abunassar 2, Turner 2, Moultrie 1.
Half: 32-22 MH.
River Hill 40, Glenelg 30
The Hawks won their fourth game in a row behind double-digit scoring efforts from Aniyah Smith (14 points) and Kennedy Clark (13).
Olivia LePage had 12 points to lead Glenelg.
RH (10-4, 13-7): Smith 14, Clark 13, Masker 6, Jackson 5, Patel 2.
G (2-11, 3-15): LePage 12, Salafia 5, Anderson 4, Prezelski 4, Gillespie 3, Tolbert 2.
Half: 25-16 RH.
Hammond 57, Wilde Lake 34
The Golden Bears snapped a four-game losing skid, getting double-digit scoring efforts from seniors Nyelle Allen (17 points), Imani Reid (17) and Taylor Liguori (14).
Mia Swaby-Rowe led Wilde Lake with 11 points.
Ha (5-8, 9-9): Allen 17, Reid 17, Liguori 14, Fogle 7, Brown 2.
WL (0-13, 1-16): Swaby-Rowe 11, Zimmerman 9, Corkeron 6, Floyd 5, Richards 3.
Half: 26-12 Ha.
Reach Brent Kennedy at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports