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Guard-heavy McDonogh girls again get best of Roland Park, 63-55

When the McDonogh girls basketball team lost 6-foot forward AJ Davis to a torn ACL in just the second game of the season, the Eagles suddenly became uncomfortably one-dimensional.

"You look down the bench, and there's nothing but more guards," McDonogh coach Brad Rees said.

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In Friday's 63-55 win over No. 3 Roland Park, however, the host No. 2 Eagles once again showed they can accomplish big things with their diminutive lineup.

Senior Taleah Dixon scored 18 points, junior Jessica Booth scored 16 and junior Treasure Valdez and senior Kayla Liles added 12 each, as McDonogh — essentially playing a five-guard lineup the entire game — nailed eight 3-pointers, forced 18 turnovers and held the lead from the game's early moments before building it to as much as 15 early in the fourth quarter.

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Senior guard Da'Shawn Phillip and sophomore forward Jamal West Jr. combined to score 44 points as the Poets improved to 13-0 on the season.

"That's all we have, so that's kind of our game," Rees said. "Spread the court, kick it out and make some shots. That's kind of our game. We try to take advantage of some matchups and some of the athleticism, look for some kick-outs for 3."

While the Eagles (16-2, 5-1 Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference) time and again had success driving toward the basket and kicking the ball out to shooters on the perimeter, Roland Park found little success outside the paint, hitting just one of its 15 3-point attempts.

Despite a game-high 23 points and 18 rebounds from sophomore Mir McLean, Roland Park — again playing without Richmond-bound guard Aniyah Carpenter (concussion) — lost to McDonogh for the second time in 17 days in what's become a matchup nightmare.

"They're all guards, which causes a lot of problems for us, because it's tough coverage for our post kids on the defensive end," Reds coach Scott Buckley said. "On the other end, we pretty much got whatever we wanted inside, but we just didn't finish as well as we could."

Trailing by eight late in the third quarter, the Reds rallied, with McLean scoring on a pair of put-backs and then getting to within three when Maria Ferariu made one of two from the line.

In short order, however, the Eagles regained command, with Valdez's 3-pointer to end the quarter starting a 12-0 run, which also included a key 3 from Dixon.

"My teammates attacked, they kicked the ball out and I knocked down the shots," Dixon said. "We knew they would step up, so we just had to step up more."

Roland Park, which began this season nationally ranked, quickly found itself down, 58-43, with just over 5 minutes left, and never threatened again.

"We used a lot of energy to get back in it when we cut it to three, I think, and then we didn't have much more left in the tank," said Buckley, adding that his team felt the effects of playing without its top guard. "I think we really miss her experience on the floor, more than anything."

Girls basketball

McDonogh 63, Roland Park 55

Roland Park – Henson 9, McLean 23, Cockerille 2, Green 7, Ferariu 6, Robinson 8. Totals: 18 17-21 55.

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McDonogh – Dixon 18, Nelson 4, Booth 16, Oden 1, Valdez 12, Liles 12. Totals: 23 9-11 63.

Half: McDonogh, 37-27.

writerguy@comcast.net

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