POTOMAC — It was over for the Wheaton Knights girls basketball team Tuesday night by the end of the first quarter as the Churchill Bulldogs started strong and never let off. In the end, the Bulldogs emerged triumphant against the Knights, the final score 50-20.
The night was a rough one for the Knights. They didn’t reach double digits on the scoreboard until the fourth quarter and made a total of nine points in the first three quarters of the game.
Up until a drastic about-face in the fourth quarter, the Knights scored two, three and four points in the first, second and third quarter, respectively. High pressure from the Bulldogs and missed buckets shackled the Knights throughout the game, but the turnovers fatally dented their armor.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, were coasting throughout most of the game. By neutralizing the Knights’ star senior point guard Crystal Jones, they were able to maneuver more freely and leave the visitors scrambling to come up with a different plan of attack.
“We knew their dominant player was 13 [Jones] so we just shut her down and played hard defense and tried to keep the ball out of her hands and keep her from scoring,” said sophomore Bulldogs guard Brittini Martin.
In a harbinger of what was to come, the Bulldogs outscored the Knights 9-2 in the first quarter.
Foul trouble hampered the Knights so much that all but two of the Bulldogs’ points came from the line. The Bulldogs made seven of 10 free throws, six of which came from Martin.
Martin shot 100 percent from the line, making all six of them in the first quarter. She also was the highest scoring player for the Bulldogs as she put up 19 points in the night.
“Not only can she [Martin] score, but she’s finding girls,” said Bulldogs head coach Kate Blanken about Martin’s playmaking ability.
Junior center Caroline Djukduel made the only basket for the Knights in the first quarter, an easy layup that contrasted the Knights previous troubles in even trying to get past the stalwart Bulldogs defense.
Jones scored the sole three points in the second quarter for the Knights, as accuracy woes plagued the team and turnovers frustrated them even more. Martin drained nine points and sophomore forward Leah Rubino put up four to help the Bulldogs go into halftime up by 23 points.
The momentum slowed for the Bulldogs after halftime as they scored only 10 points, while sophomore Knights guard Sierra Sesay drained a three-pointer for her team’s only contribution in the third quarter.
The Knights’ performance left much to be desired going into the fourth and final quarter, as they were down by 29 points. Defeat was essentially assured unless they could manage a flawless 30-point-or-higher comeback.
“Give it 110 percent, no matter which way the score goes whether up or down, give it 110 percent the whole time,” said Knights head coach Michelle Snupe.
The Knights did not come back, unsurprisingly, but they made a surprise performance as they posted a game-high 11 points in the fourth quarter alone and went tit-for-tat by holding the Bulldogs to 12 points.
Jones scored seven points and the team in general went from being dominated to putting up a fight, reducing turnovers and going all-out on defense. It was too little too late, though, and the Bulldogs had no trouble in keeping their lead and cozily finishing 30 points ahead.