POTOMAC—A formula for winning basketball games on any level is good team defense, limiting turnovers and hitting foul shots.
When the Connelly of the Holy Child Girls Varsity Basketball Tigers (18-1) beat the Whitman Girls Vikings (24-3), 47-42, on Monday night at Holy Child gymnasium, this Tiger team played poorly on defense, did not limit its turnovers in the fourth quarter and was abysmal for most of the night from the foul line. Yet it still found a way to win.
The Tigers’ winning streak is up to 18, and it is one of the top teams in the metro area from the ISL, but Tigers head coach Jamie Ready had to address the foul shooting as the Tigers made only nine of 27 foul shots, almost snapping their winning streak.
Ready knows her team has to figure this out moving forward. “You know it has been something we are definitely struggling with, and we’ve been working on it. … Like I said to them in the locker room, I’m very proud of you. We found a way to win, and we got to figure out our foul shooting. We got to figure it out.”
The Vikings made a spirited fourth quarter comeback effort that fell short as they shaved a 21-point lead down to six with just over two minutes left in the game. This 16-2 run from the start of the fourth to about the two-minute mark featured good team defense and an offense supplied by Vikings senior forward Isabel Manzano (10 points) and sisters senior center Olivia Meyers (nine points) and senior guard Abby Meyers (21 points).
The Vikings would miss a flurry of shots over their next two possessions and the Tigers would convert two of four foul shots, extending their lead to eight with under a minute to play, virtually putting the game out of reach. So, ironically, toward the end of the game, the Tigers were saved in part by their foul shooting.
In one final Viking effort, guard Abby Meyers would hit a top of the key arcing three-pointers to pull the Vikings within four points with 8.3 seconds left yet not enough time remained to complete a comeback.
Abby Meyers said, “Yes, I mean, obviously, it came a little too late but I think I didn’t hit as many shots as I wanted to. My teammates really came up big, especially in the second half. So, many people shined tonight. Our team gained a lot of confidence, especially Isabel Manzano.”
Ready offered her assessment of the final minutes. “I think what I said at the timeout to bring everyone and say now the only good news of this is that we have now out of our 20 games we’ve had a heck of a lot of very close, down-to-the- final-minute games. And we’ve made – find a way to win. So, I knew my kids had the heart to dig deep enough. We can’t keep letting it get to that point.”
The Tigers built a commanding 18-point halftime lead with a dominating second quarter. In the second on the strength of five three-pointers, the Tigers outscored the Vikings, 29-13.
Tigers junior guard Troy Yantsos and senior guard Marley Burgess led the charge with 10 points apiece for the game while sophomore guard Caroline Ambrosi chipped in eight points and junior guard Jada Dapaa and junior center Jada Welbin followed with five points each.