by Nelson Coffin
As the opening day of the 32nd Annual Holly and Hoops Holiday Basketball Tournament wound down on Thursday evening at Notre Dame Prep, the final two games were a study in contrasts.
While NDP had to grind its way past No. 19 Francis Scott Key, 42-39, in the fourth of five games, 11th-ranked Mount de Sales breezed by No. 9 Western, 75-47, to wrap up the first day’s festivities.
Although the Sailors of the IAAM B Conference have proven time and again that they know how to play fundamentally-sound basketball against quality opponents, their margin of victory over the Doves was, if not stunning, at the very least, surprising.
Mount de Sales (10-2 overall) was a sizzling eight-for-nine from beyond the three-point arc in the first half while building a 10-point lead in the first quarter and doubling that cushion by the intermission.
The Doves were able to cut the margin under 20 points for the final time early in the third quarter on a bucket by sophomore small forward Zyan Reynold.
“We knew that they were a really athletic team and we really worked hard on our screens and kick-outs,” said Mount de Sales junior point guard Megan Matsko, whose deft ball handling skills helped the Sailors run their offense to near perfection.
The explosion of three-balls buried the Doves (4-2) early.
“They just passed and cut,” Western coach Tasha Townsend said about the Sailors’ offensive scheme. “And we didn’t get to the spot first to stop them. We came out sluggish, and you have to come out with more energy from the tip. We needed to put a hand in somebody’s face, but we were two seconds behinds all night.”
Mount de Sales senior forward Kristen Zaranski led all scorers with 22 points while senior point guard Abby Kuhn had 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
Senior wing Rachel Krug did a nice job of defending Western’s rising rookie Nyceara Pryor. Pryor, a freshman guard, still scored 17 points to pace the Doves.
Kuhn said that she wasn’t surprised by her team’s accuracy from downtown.
“Coming into games, we’re used to hitting those shots,” she said.
She cited her team’s poise as another reason for its success.
“We weren’t hectic with the ball,” Kuhn added.
The Sailors would be wise to keep their hot shooting hands when they challenge another Baltimore City powerhouse, No. 4 Poly (6-1), in the final game of the event on Friday at 7 p.m. The Doves (4-2) will face Mount Hebron of Howard County at 3 p.m.
Despite playing on their home floor, NDP struggled early and didn’t pull ahead of the Eagles from Carroll County until junior guard Sophie Davis’ up-and-under layup gave the Blazers an 11-10 lead in the second quarter.
The lead was short-lived, however, as FSK freshman guard Savannah Brooks’ steal-and-score put her team back on top, 12-11, until NDP closed the period on a 10-2 run to take a 21-14 advantage into the third quarter.
A 10-0 run at the end of the third period and early into the final frame regained the lead for FSK (6-1), although NDP freshman guard Sydney Britt nailed a jumper at the top of the key to put the Blazers back on top.
Clutch baskets by senior guard Addie Fischer and Davis down the stretch helped NDP secure victory. Davis came off the bench to lead all scorers with 12 points. NDP senior guard Alex Fava had six steals and four assists in the victory. Sophomore forward Ellie DeFries pulled down 12 boards to lead the Blazers in that department.
NDP coach Katie Marks said that she liked the way her team was passing the ball and improved its transition game.
“I liked our hustle,” she said. “They might make mistakes, but they always hustle.”
The Blazers hope to even their record on Friday when they meet Perry Hall at 5 p.m. Francis Scott Key, which got nine points from Bailey Mathias and Savannah Brooks, plays Pennsylvania’s Holy Trinity in an 11 a.m. tilt.
Holly & Hoops Tournament
at Notre Dame Prep
Notre Dame Prep 42, No. 19 Francis Scott Key 39
Notre Dame Prep – Sophie Davis 12, Anna Melchionni 5, Addie Fischer 5, Ellie DeFries 5, Abby Rudolph 4, Sydney Gritt 4, Alex Fava 3, Kati Ogtzman 2, Liza Regan 2.
Francis Scott Key – Bailey Mathias 9, Savannah Brooks 9, Kennedy Cornick 8, Karla Stonesifer 6, Sara Warthen 3, Rachel Wright 2, Devyn Schuman 2.
Notre Dame Prep 5 16 5 16 — 42
Francis Scott Key 8 6 11 14 — 39
No. 11 Mount de Sales Academy 75, No. 9 Western 47
Western – Nyceara Pryor 17, Tykeara Burden 13, Zyan Reynold 8, Gabrielle Johnson 5, Joi Scruggs 2, Destiny Hawkins 2.
Mount de Sales – Kristen Zaranski 22, Abby Kuhn 18, Rachel Krug 15, Megan Matsko 12, Anya Walker 4, Shelly Parker 2, Nuenna Obi 2.
Western 10 10 9 18 — 47
Mount de Sales 20 20 17 18 — 75
Mount Hebron 52, Catholic 13
Mount Hebron 14 5 26 7 – 52
No. 4 Poly 73, Perry Hall 28
Poly 11 13 29 20 – 73
River Hill 52, Holy Trinity (PA) 20