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No. 9 John Carroll girls finally close out a top team, beat No. 5 Western, 51-49

No. 9 John Carroll's Jordan Wakefield talks about the 51-49 win over No. 5 Western. (Katherine Dunn, Baltimore Sun video)

John Carroll’s girls basketball team hasn’t had much trouble hanging with top-five teams early. The No. 9 Patriots just haven’t been able to sustain it for an entire game

Monday night, however, they finally withstood that opposing surge and earned their biggest win in years, 51-49, at No. 5 Western.

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“It means everything,” senior point guard Savannah Simmons said. “Over the past four years, we haven’t had the highest rankings, and now to beat a top 10 team lets everybody else know we’re here to make some noise this year. We’re back, we’re better and we can really do something special.”

The Patriots (11-4) are in fourth place in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference, with all their losses to higher-ranked teams, In the past 11 days, they’ve been right there with No. 2 McDonogh, No. 3 Roland Park and No. 7 Howard but could not hold on.

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“We’re having to learn how to close out good teams,” Patriots coach Craig Simmons said. “In all the games we’ve played this week, we’ve had the lead. Tonight was a little bit different in that we had a big lead early on and like good teams — credit to Western — they made a great run, but the biggest thing is our kids aren’t used to being in this situation, so for us it’s been a long time coming in building a program. This was a great step, I thought.”

In a game that had been postponed twice because of winter weather, the Patriots raced out to a 33-15 lead at the half before Western (10-3) opened the second half with an 18-1 run. The Doves took their first lead, 39-37, on Mackenzie Pollard’s 3-pointer and two free throws from Jasmen Walton with 6:41 to go.

In the fourth quarter, the Patriots hit just one field goal, but they kept pace from the free-throw line. Simmons hit two to give John Carroll the lead for good, 41-40 with 6:16 remaining.

Jordan Wakefield, a 5-10 junior forward who led the Patriots with 18 points, hit six of seven free throws in the final four minutes, including two for a 51-47 lead with 13.2 seconds left.

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Howard girls basketball opens fourth quarter on 16-1 run to help earn 64-51 victory over John Carroll on Saturday, Jan. 20 in the Public vs Private School Challenge at McDonogh.

“I was just thinking that I have to pull everyone together. I have to be this leader that everyone is looking up to, so I think I just pulled it together — and I have to make these free throws,” Wakefield said.

The Doves hit seven more field goals than John Carroll, but the Patriots shot 20 more free throws and also hit six 3-pointers, two each from Wakefield and Myah Savage.

Still the Doves pulled within 48-47 on Walton’s follow shot with 1:35 left. They missed three shots and were called for a charge on another drive during the next 1:15. After Wakefield’s free throws pushed the lead to four, Makayla Pickens scored, but time ran out as Western tried to steal the inbound pass.

Walton said patience and switching to a man-to-man defense got the Doves back into the game in the second half. They hit nine of their first 13 shots, many in transition. Four baskets came directly off John Carroll turnovers. Pollard scored eight of her 11 points in the quarter.

Sophomore forward Mir McLean leads No. 3 Roland Park over No. 6 Western, 50-46, at the Public Vs. Private Challenge.

The fouls, however, continued to build and John Carroll shot the double bonus the entire fourth quarter.

For the Doves, the defending Baltimore City champions, the loss was the second straight game to an A Conference team after falling to Roland Park, 50-46, in Saturday’s Public vs. Private Challenge. The competition likely will be beneficial as they make a run at a Class 4A state title.

“I think down the stretch this will be good,” said Walton an All-Metro forward-guard who finished with eight points and three assists, “because this loss was a lesson, especially with decision-making, so further down the line I think we’ll be smarter.”

JC—Simmons 11, Wakefield 18, Savage 8, Carillo 3, Huggins 8, Williams 3. Totals 14 17-28 51.

W—Hawkins 7, Walton 8, Johnson 2, Pickens 8, Fisher 2, Scott-Pearson 3, Rideout 8. Totals 21 5-8 49. Half: JC, 33-15.

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