As the No. 3 Roland Park girls basketball team headed into Wednesday morning’s game against No. 15 Poly, Reds coach Scott Buckley wondered just how tired his team would be.
The Reds won four games last week to take the title in their division at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Arizona, and Buckley knew stamina would be a factor Wednesday. His team got off to a quick start against the Engineers, then the lull set in, but they rebounded to break open an eight-point game late in the third quarter for a 71-46 victory at the 31st Annual Holly & Hoops Tournament at Notre Dame Prep.
“It was a lot,” senior guard Aniyah Carpenter said of last Tuesday through Friday’s games. The motivation “comes from within. Everyone’s tired. We know that. But we went out there in Phoenix and conquered, so we have to come back home and show something at home and keep the pace going.”
Carpenter began the game with a 3-pointer and added a layup before Ja’Niah Henson hit a 3-pointer for an 8-0 opening run. The Engineers cut the lead to four in the first quarter, but after that it remained about eight until late in the third quarter.
The Reds fouled a lot early and couldn’t make their break until they scored the last seven points of the third quarter to ignite a 20-2 run. That ran their lead from eight to 26 points in about 4½ minutes.
With the Reds leading 41-33, Henson, who finished with 20 points, hit a 3-pointer to spark the run with 50 seconds left in the third quarter.
All-Metro forward Mir McLean, in foul trouble early, scored nine points in the run with her three-point play boosting the Roland Park lead to 61-35 with 4:30 left in the game. The sophomore scored all 15 of her points in the second half and also had 12 rebounds for the game.
Buckley said his team lost intensity and committed “silly fouls” after their opening spurt but that Poly had something to do with that as well.
“I thought Poly played really solid,” he said. “They have a lot of kids who can get to the rim and part of our fouls were on us, but part of them, they kept the pressure on by taking the ball to the basket. Second half we went zone. I think that helped us out foul-wise … and, we kind of emphasized in the second half, ‘Get the ball inside a little bit more and be a little more active.’”
The Engineers’ 5-foot-10 sophomore Dasia Townes defended the 5-11 McLean well early, but when Townes got in foul trouble and the Reds pushed the inside game, the Engineers put McLean on the free-throw line too often and she hit nine of 12.
“We got some people in foul trouble that were really controlling the complexion of the game,” Poly coach Kendall Peace-Able said. “Dasia Townes is just as big as Mir, just [as] athletic. She’s just a different kind of ballhandler than Mir is, so she put some pressure on Mir and that third foul on her in the second quarter kind of put her on a different wave.”
Even as Roland Park opened its lead, the Engineers continued to pressure the Reds and challenge them inside.Taijah Ridgeway led Poly with 12 points while Townes had nine.
To Peace-Able, the Engineers (2-1) played pretty well against a team that has had four times as many games. The Reds are 11-1. Still, she wouldn’t trade the opportunity to play a private-school program even this early.
“If I could play every game [against private schools] outside of the district schedule that they give me, I would,” she said, “and it’s because it readies us for state playoffs, it readies us for college acceptance and opportunities, because academically, we’re ready, but what college coach is going to come see us win 99-10?”
Both teams will be back in action Thursday at NDP as the Engineers take on No. 13 Mount de Sales at 3 p.m. and the Reds meet No. 5 Catonsville at 7 p.m.
No. 3 Roland Park 71, No. 15 Poly 46
P — Gross 8, Glenn 3, Townes 9, Lilly 8, Robinson 2, Ridgeway 12, Jones 4. Totals: 15 15-20 46.
RP — Henson 20, McLean 15, Carpenter 10, Green 7, Robinson 4, Ferariu 14, Levine 1. Totals: 20 25-36 71. Half: RP: 30-22.