Roland Park’s No. 3 girls basketball team finished off a challenging holiday schedule with a 68-49 win over No. 5 Catonsville on Thursday night at the 31st annual Holly & Hoops Tournament at Notre Dame Prep.
The Reds went 6-0 over their break, including winning four games last week to capture their bracket of the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz. Improving to 12-1, the Reds are ranked No. 21 in the MaxPreps national Xcellent 25. They have yet to play a home game.
“It’s big,” Reds guard Rain Green said of the holiday stretch. “It feels really good, going home, having five days off and being able to be 12-1.”
In their sixth game in 10 days, the Reds broke out of a 26-26 halftime tie with a big third quarter. Aniyah Carpenter hit a 3-pointer that gave them the lead for good, but after Catonsville’s Aysia Ferguson cut the lead to 29-27, the Reds scored nine straight points to take a 38-28 lead on two free throws by Mir McLean.
McLean, a 5-foot-11 All-Metro forward, scored 17 of her 23 points in the second half and the sophomore’s inside play made the difference as the Reds extended their lead to 17 points by the end of the quarter.
The defending Class 4A state champion Comets (5-2) cut the lead to six in the middle of the quarter, but when their All-Metro forward-guard Jasmine Dickey, who scored 15 points, had to sit with three fouls, the Reds took advantage.
“If she gets in trouble, we’re in trouble,” Comets coach Mike Mohler said. “You can’t take your best player out of any game and she’s our best player. Not having her hurt, because she was on fire there for a while. She was making some really tough shots.”
Dickey returned later in the quarter but picked up her fourth foul. When she came back in the fourth quarter, she couldn’t challenge McLean and the Reds had little trouble maintaining the large margin.
“You can’t throw up ill-timed and poor shots against that team because they just turn it into layups and wide open threes, and that’s what happened,” Mohler said. “If you don’t rebound, [McLean] will kill you inside which she did. She was getting every rebound. Jas couldn’t contest. She was just crushing us on the boards.”
The Reds complemented McLean’s game with eight 3-pointers, including three from Carpenter, who finished with 13 points.
No. 15 Poly 52, No. 13 Mount de Sales 43: The Engineers opened the second half with a 14-point run that turned a two-point game into 36-20 lead, enough to hold on for a victory over the Sailors.
On Wednesday, Poly (3-1) was on the other side of the post-halftime surge in a 71-46 loss to No. 3 Roland Park.
“Our plan to day was to get it back, because yesterday, we played hard but we didn’t get the win that we wanted,” Poly guard Jada Gross said. “Coach [Kendall Peace-Able] said don’t come out flat [in the second half] and that was pretty much our game plan, so come out aggressive, push and make sure we get the same first punch that we gave in the beginning of the game. It worked.”
Gianni Jones scored the first two baskets of the second half and layups from Janya Little and freshman Tenea Robinson pushed a 22-20 lead to 30-20 in about two minutes. Robinson, who scored seven of her 12 points in the run, capped a three-point play with 4:14 to go in the third quarter for a 36-20 Poly lead.
“I told the girls that was the difference in the ball game, those first four minutes,” Mount de Sales coach Trish Armstrong said. “Our wings were standing. They put a lot of pressure on our point guard and the wings were standing too much and the point guard was just high and dry out there.”
It didn’t help the Sailors (8-4) to have 6-foot-1 forward Syd Skalstad in foul trouble in the third quarter or to be playing without their best player, junior forward Abby Kuhn, who has been sick for the past few weeks but should return to the lineup next week.
The quicker Engineers kept the pressure on the Sailors’ ball handlers but also on their inside game, forcing a lot of turnovers, including four in the early second-half run.
Still, the Sailors chipped away at the lead and cut it to 46-42 on a layup with 1:16 left by Allie Berlin, who scored 18. They immediately put on the full-court press, but the Engineers rolled through it as Dasia Townes fed Lilly, who scored 14 points, for a layup with 1:07 to go.
Mount de Sales missed a couple of 3-point attempts and had to foul the Engineers. Robinson and Taijah Ridgeway combined to hit four of six free throws in the final 49 seconds. Robinson’s last free throw pushed the lead to 52-42 with less than 10 seconds to go.
For the Engineers, the chance to play two ranked private-school teams was a welcome break from a league in which they often win by wide margins.
“It’s good competition,” Gross said. “When we play weaker teams, we don’t get to see our weaknesses, but when we play tougher teams, we get to see what we need to work on — those little tiny things, those little nuances that we really need to polish — so it’s all good.”