Battling through injuries during the month of December, Reservoir girls basketball coach Deb Taylor kept reminding her team that it’s not how you start the race, it’s how you finish it.
And, since turning the calendar on a new year, the Gators appear to finally be hitting their stride.
On the road Wednesday against Hammond, Reservoir won its third straight county contest. Nia Powell scored 16 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked six shots to lead the way in a 50-25 win — the team’s largest margin of victory so far this winter.
“I’m really pleased with how we are playing, and I’m even more proud of how we are learning. I’ve known all along that we had talent, but what we didn’t have initially was a great understanding of basketball,” Taylor said. “So now you can see that progression. We’re making smart decisions that are resulting in great team play. We’re sharing the basketball so much better and when you put that with us already being a great rebounding team, the results are starting to come.”
Reservoir (3-3, 4-6), with standout junior forward Emily Dorn in and out of the line-up battling an ankle injury, opened the season losing six of its first seven games. But with Dorn back in the fold, and those around her having gained valuable experience in her absence, the pieces have started to come together for the Gators.
Against Hammond (2-4, 4-4), the team’s balance was on full display en route to a 24-7 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. Powell and Dorn (6 points, 11 rebounds) got things going on the interior, which then opened up space for players like Hydeinah Moore (11 points) and Tiffany Hooker to keep the momentum rolling.
“I think the key to that win was just knowing how to share the ball, find the open player and keeping up the intensity even when the gym intensity went down [in the second half],” Powell said. “We played our hearts out tonight.”
The Reservoir lead grew to 19 points, 34-15, by halftime. Then in the third quarter, the Gators turned to their defense to put the game away for good.
Hammond failed to score a single point in the third period, a defensive effort that allowed Reservoir to increase its lead to 28 points heading into the final eight minutes.
Taylor said that while the offensive execution fell off at times, the effort on defense never waivered.
“I think offensively we’re still learning a little bit how to play with a lead, but on the defensive side of things we definitely never let up,” Taylor said. “That third quarter, in particular, was really terrific.”
The Golden Bears, which were led on the night by Imani Reid’s seven points, did finally get their offense going a little down the stretch to score 10 points in the final quarter. But ultimately the team was unable to get any closer than 19 at any point in the second half.
Looking forward, with a match-up against Wilde Lake scheduled for Friday, Powell says the team is playing with a lot of confidence.
“I don’t want to say that we should completely forget about our games early in the season, but we also need to put all that behind us and understand that we are a different team now,” she said. “We need to take the confidence and momentum from this game, and like the Mt. Hebron game the other day, and use it to our advantage. I think we’re showing ourselves what we are capable of when we play as a team.”
Reservoir 50, Hammond 25
Re (3-3, 4-6): Powell 16, Moore 11, Bailey 8, Dorn 6, Fourney 5, Hooker 4.
Ha (2-4, 4-4): Reid 7, Burns 5, Lindsey 5, McInerney 4, Julius-Khumbah 2, Allen 1, Clark 1.
Half: 34-15 Ha.
Howard 78, Oakland Mills 42
In a battle between two of the top three teams in the Howard County standings, the Lions started fast and never slowed down on their way to handing the host Scorpions their first league loss of the season. Taylor Addison led the charge with a season-high 24 points to go along with 14 rebounds, while Madison Burris (20 points) and Courtney Furr (15) had strong offensive nights as well.
Marisa Sanchez-Henry also had a strong game with seven points and seven assists.
Howard led 40-26 at the half.
Marley Grenway paced Oakland Mills in the loss with 17 points.
Ho (5-1, 10-1): Addison 24, Burris 20, Furr 15, Sanchez-Henry 7, Eich 4, Thames 2, Jones 2, Malagar 2, Ciepiela 2.
OM (5-1, 8-3): Grenway 17, Washington 11, Eldridge 5, Riggs 4, Miranda 3, Lightfoot 2.
Long Reach 62, River Hill 37
The Lightning continued their undefeated start to the season, putting Kiana Williams (15 points), Arianna Briggs-Hall (14) and Lyric Swann (12) all in double figures on the way to a 25-point win over the Hawks.
Long Reach led 37-11 at the half, holding River Hill to just a single point in the second quarter. The Hawks did get a team-high 13 points from Kennedy Clark in the loss.
LR (7-0, 8-0): Williams 15, Briggs-Hall 14, L. Swann 12, Thompson 8, Streeter 7, J. Swann 3, Proctor 3.
RH (2-4, 8-4): Clark 13, S. Jackson 11, Dawit 6, Altman 2, Masker 2, E. Jackson 2, King 1.
Half: 37-11 LR.
Centennial 43, Marriotts Ridge 13
The Eagles put an end to a two-game losing skid in emphatic fashion, playing their best defensive game of the season on the way to the 30-point victory. After leading 18-7 at the half, Centennial buckled down defensively to hold the Mustangs without a point the entire third quarter and first four minutes of the fourth.
Ashley Molz (10 points) led what was a balance effort offensively, with six players scoring four or more points.
C (3-3, 6-5): Molz 10, Welsh 9, Anderson 7, Dossett 6, Reese 4, Hamshey 4, Fowler 2, Worthy 1.
MR (2-4, 6-6): Conroy 6, H. morath 3, Bryan 2, Crosby 2.
Glenelg 49, Atholton 33
The Gladiators won their seventh straight game, getting a season-high 15 points from Katie LaPort. Jess Foster was right behind her with 14 points.
G (5-1, 9-1): LaPort 15, Foster 14, Johnson 9, Gillespie 6, Prezelski 3, Anderson 2.
A (1-5, 3-7): Cannon 11, Sowah 7, Simons 6, Ruley 5, Hargett 4.
Mt. Hebron 46, Wilde Lake 11
Tori Valentine scored a game-high 20 points and the Vikings led from start to finish against the Wildecats.
MH (2-5, 6-6): Valentine 20, Oliver 8, Williams 8, Dennis 4, Madden 4, Chase 2.
WL (0-6, 1-9): Perry 6, Corkeron 5.
Reach Brent Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports