Weary Crusaders keep it going
Riverdale Baptist tops Warriors despite hectic schedule, illness
As a private school that plays an independent schedule, the third-ranked Riverdale Baptist girls’ basketball team is in a situation as unique as any in the region. The Upper Marlboro school will play more than 30 games this season and travel as far as Arizona and Florida to compete in top-flight tournaments.
But that grueling schedule can have consequences. Heading into Saturday’s game against No. 12 H.D. Woodson in the Uptown Hoopfest, a showcase at Trinity University in the District, three Crusaders were a little sick, likely from all the travel and changes in weather, according to Riverdale senior guard Lauren Chase, one of the players battling flu-like symptoms.
Still, the Crusaders defeated the five-time defending DCIAA champion Warriors, 62-46, with one of those sick players leading the way.
Senior center Deja Hawkins, who usually starts but came off the bench Saturday because she missed school twice this week with an illness and couldn’t practice, was too difficult for H.D. Woodson (6-5) to stop under the basket, totaling a team-high 16 points.
The 6-foot-3 Hawkins has “ been a matchup problem with everyone we’ve played, not only with her height but her width,” Riverdale Coach Diane Richardson said. “She’s got a nice touch and nice hands. We went inside to her and it worked, so we went with it.”
The Crusaders (15-4) held only a six-point lead after a first quarter that was, at times, slow and sloppy. Two minutes into the game, after a problem resetting the shot clock, tournament organizers realized their mistake and took the shot clock away, something that didn’t sit well with Richardson, whose team is accustomed to playing with one.
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But it mattered little, as both teams quickly began pushing the tempo of the game. Hawkins and junior Diana Logan, a Georgetown recruit, scored all but three of the team’s 14 second-quarter points, pushing the lead to 30-18 at halftime.
H.D. Woodson junior guard Rahni Bell led her team with 16 points, many off three-pointers or long jump shots that broke down the defense. But the Crusaders held H.D. Woodson’s leading scorer, junior forward Jephany Brown, to four points.
“I would prefer the shot clock because we trap and our defense is very tight up on them, so the shot clock would have been a positive for us,” Hawkins said. “But we still came out and did what we had to do defensively.”
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Riverdale Baptist center DejaHawkins (30) battles H.D. Woodson’s Rahni Bell for control of the ball.