ROCKVILLE – During last season’s second round of the high school state playoffs, Quince Orchard High School’s girls basketball season ended in the hands of Richard Montgomery by only two points.
Fast-forward to Jan. 3, the two teams met again in a nail-biting game, but this time, the Cougars got their revenge for the 62-49 victory over the Rockets.
“This is a great win,” Quince Orchard Head Coach Bobby Bishop said. “We really wanted to win this game to get us back on track, because this is a division game, and we really don’t want to lose any division games.”
The first quarter was rough for both teams, as there was little scoring with the Cougars leading by the lowly score of 9-5. However, the second quarter became more interesting as both teams nailed their jump shots and free throws. The lead changed multiple times, but Quince Orchard pulled away to take a 28-23 lead at halftime.
Cougars junior Anaya Badmus put up seven points in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer before halftime, which gave Quince Orchard their five-point advantage.
“I wasn’t nervous,” said Badmus. “We’ve played them before. I knew it wasn’t really going to be easy. I definitely knew we had to work. It was all about just staying together as a team and working together to get easy buckets to get ahead on them.”
Badmus connected again with another buzzer-beater as she scored from half court at the end of the third quarter. By the end of the evening, she finished with 20 points. When asked about the back-to-back buzzer-beaters, Badmus was unsure how to answer.
“Those were just in-the-moment shots,” said Badmus. “You’ve got to make those decisions, either pass the ball or shoot it, and it just kind of happened.”
Her senior teammate, Makayla Wright, added 13 points of her own as Bishop called the Wright-Badmus combination a lethal tandem that is also “a good combination of defense.” The duo, along with 14 points from senior Paige McNeal, held on and expanded on a five-point lead to 10 late in the fourth quarter before declaring victory.
“Honestly I’m very excited about the win,” said Wright. “Me and my teammates, we were hustling, trying to make every possession, work hard, play good defense.”
Despite the loss, members of the Rockets, including Head Coach Michael Oakes, called the game a “good learning experience” as they prepare for the latter half of the season. His players must learn from the loss and continue to improve as the season progresses.
“I think both teams came out, competed hard in the game,” Oakes said. “It came down to execution in the stretch, and I think they executed better than we did, particularly in the last two minutes.”
Rockets senior Anujin Dashdorj scored a team-high 16 points. Oakes said that he was not surprised seeing the point guard contribute, and it was good to see her and others step up against Quince Orchard.
Meanwhile, the Cougars were just happy to start the new year and new decade with a bang. While it was essential to get the win, players like Badmus was reflective on the result and looking for ways to improve as they prepare for the second half of the season.
“I definitely could have done some things better,” said Badmus. “Overall, I’m happy with how I played. I tried to get my teammates involved, get to the basket when I could so that we could pull out this win.”
Wright agreed, hoping to see Quince Orchard continue their positive momentum gained from the win into their next contest. The Cougars will host Clarksburg on Jan. 10 before traveling to take on rival Northwest on Jan. 15.
“It’s a great feeling because it’s like ‘New Year,’” said Wright. “Every game is brand new. Simple as that.”