Third quarter explosion propels No. 2 Roland Park past Catonsville (VIDEO HERE!!)
by Nelson Coffin
photos by Jimmy Fields Sr.
Fresh off a title at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Arizona, No. 2 Roland Park Country School flew back into town this week just in time to celebrate Christmas and jump right back on the court for a big local showdown with No. 4 Catonsville, Thursday at the Holly & Hoops Holiday Basketball Tournament, hosted by Notre Dame Prep.
The Reds showed no travel fatigue as they solved Catonsville’s zone defense and cruised to a 68-49 victory at the 31st annual edition of this girls basketball holiday event.
“We turned up the defensive intensity and that led us to getting out in transition,” Roland Park coach Scott Buckley said after the Reds’ improved their record to 12-1.
It also helped to have Mir McLean owning the boards down the stretch when she grabbed a slew of offensive rebounds that either gave her easy point-blank put-backs or sent her to the line.
The sophomore forward, who was named the MVP of the Reds’ division in Arizona last week, finished with 21 points, converted 10-of-12 free-throw attempts and hauled down a game-best 18 boards against Catonsville.
“She controlled the boards in the second half,” said Buckley, whose team is ranked No. 21 nationally in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 after edging Omaha (Neb.) Westside, 60-58, in the TOC finale in Phoenix.
Buckley said the Reds’ only loss this season was by 20 points to Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, a boarding school in Chattanooga (Tenn.) that features a front-court boasting 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-4 players. The point guard, he said, is a 6-foot-2 University of Tennessee recruit.
The Comets (4-2), while the reigning Class 4A state champs, do not have that kind of wherewithal. Still, they have plenty of firepower in their own right, and they gave Roland Park all it could handle in the first half.
With leading scorer Jasmine Dickey, a University of Delaware recruit, producing 10 points and fellow senior guard Jameila Barrett hitting back-to-back buckets late in the second quarter, Catonsville went into the intermission dead even with the Reds at 20-20.
“The zone did give us some problems,” Buckley admitted. “We settled for the outside shot too much, and stopped getting to the rim. But then we found the right mix of both and played inside-out.”
Roland Park went on a 12-2 run early in the third quarter on a three-point baseline bomb by senior guard Aniyah Carpenter, a drive by junior guard Ja’Niah Henson, a pair of McLean free throws and a three-point play and fast-break hoop by sophomore guard Rain Green. The Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference squad outscored their public school rival, 25-8, in the period.
“We tried to penetrate more after getting slowed down,” Henson said. “And when we penetrated more, there was always an open kick-out.”
That ploy helped the Reds to total eight three-pointers in the game.
The Comets clawed back briefly on a drive by junior guard Gabby Douglas and a Barrett steal-and-finish to cut the lead to 38-32 before consecutive stick-backs by McLean boosted the lead back to double digits — and it never went under that cushion again.
“It’s pretty obvious to me that we’re not ready to go all 32 minutes against top-notch competition like that,” Catonsville coach Mike Mohler said. “We just had too many mental and physical breakdowns, and we didn’t run our offense. At least now we know what we have to work on.”
Green did a nice job of guarding Dickey (13 points), who was plagued with foul trouble that cut her playing time down considerably in the second half.
“Anytime you take your best player off the court, it’s going to hurt your team,” Mohler said.
Buckley said he used two defenders to keep Dickey in check after the intermission.
“We put Rain on her, because she always guards the other team’s best player,” Buckley said. “Then (6-foot-1 guard) Maria (Ferariu) played her some — and provided some size.”
HOLLY & HOOPS TOURNAMENT
(AT NOTRE DAME PREP)
NO. 2 ROLAND PARK COUNTRY 68, NO. 4 CATONSVILLE 49
RPCS 18 8 25 17 — 68
CHS 14 12 8 15 — 49
ROLAND PARK COUNTY: Mir McLean 21, Aniyah Carpenter 13, Rain Green 8, Maria Ferariu 8, Ja’Niah Henson 8, Christyn Robinson 4, Sierra Cockerille 2, Brylen Hatcher 2. TOTALS: 22 16-20 68.
CATONSVILLE: Jasmine Dickey 13, Jameila Barrett 13, Aysia Ferguson 9, Gabby Douglas 8, Staisha Daniels 7. TOTALS: 21 6-10 49.