Un­able to keep pace

Pan­thers lose to St. Charles to be­gin 2019 slate

The Calvert Recorder - - Sports - By ANDY STATES as­[email protected]­news.com

Through­out the course of 2018, the St. Charles girls bas­ket­ball team got pretty used to fin­ish­ing in sec­ond place.

The Spar­tans closed out the 2017-18 sea­son as the Class 3A South Re­gion run­ner-up, and closed out the cal­en­dar year with a run­ner-up fin­ish in its bracket at the Gov­er­nor’s Chal­lenge tour­na­ment.

The Spar­tans hope to get used to some­thing else in 2019.

“We don’t want to keep com­ing in sec­ond place,” St. Charles head coach Dar­relle Smith said af­ter his team’s 5927 win at Patux­ent on Wed­nes­day night. “That’s what we kind of preached com­ing into this New Year. In 2019 we want to be first.”

On Wed­nes­day, St. Charles got 2019 off to a bit of a slow start, lead­ing by just two points af­ter a quar­ter. But the Spar­tans outscored their hosts 22-6 in the sec­ond quar­ter and ul­ti­mately cruised to the im­pres­sive vic­tory.

“We brought our in­ten­sity up,” said St. Charles’ Aysia Jones, who scored a game-high 15 points and is clos­ing in on the 1,000-point plateau for her high school ca­reer. “We kind of came into the game lax, lazy. We re­al­ized that no team is go­ing to lay down for us. We re­al­ized that and picked it up.”

“The first quar­ter is a for­get­table one, but credit [Patux­ent].” added Smith. “They’re a well-coached team. They

def­i­nitely brought it and I ap­pre­ci­ate them bring­ing their in­ten­sity.”

Af­ter Patux­ent (3-4 over­all) fin­ished the open­ing quar­ter on a 6-0 run to close to within 10-8, St. Charles (5-2) wasted lit­tle time in the sec­ond pe­riod to take con­trol.

Af­ter a bas­ket by Patux­ent’s Am­ber Al­der­man put the score at 14-12 in the vis­i­tor’s fa­vor, a three-pointer by the Spar­tans’ Cameron Brown trig- gered a 13-0 St. Charles run that in­creased the team’s ad­van­tage to 27-12 and elim­i­nated any drama that may have been present fol­low­ing the game’s ini­tial eight min­utes.

“I think it was our at­ti­tudes. We came in in the first quar­ter re­laxed. We came in think­ing it was go­ing to be an easy game,” said the Spar­tans’ Moriah Jones, who scored 11 points and knocked down a three-pointer dur­ing the team’s piv­otal sec­ond-quar­ter surge. “Then once we [got past the first quar­ter] we got hype and started en­cour­ag­ing each other. I think that’s re­ally what pushed us through.”

St. Charles led 32-14 at the half and af­ter ex­tend­ing the lead slightly to 42-22 at the end of three quarters, closed out the game with a dom­i­nant fourth quar­ter to push the fi­nal mar­gin to 32 points.

Join­ing the Jones sis­ters in dou­ble fig­ures for the vis­i­tors was Jaila Wal­ton, who scored 14 points. In all, St. Charles en­joyed rel­a­tive bal­ance with nine dif­fer­ent play­ers scor­ing on the night.

Patux­ent was paced by Jade McGrath’s 13-point ef­fort, while Ryleigh Wenker added eight. But the Pan­thers strug­gled to con­vert on op­por­tu­ni­ties close to the bas­ket which ul­ti­mately cost the team a chance to re­main in the game.

“The ef­fort is fine. You just can’t win a ball­game when you’re 11 for 52 in the paint,” Patux­ent head coach Kim Hutchi­son said. “Our stats showed 11 of 52 in the paint. You have to make at least half that if you want to be in a ball­game.

“They stepped up on the de­fense, did ev­ery­thing I asked. We turned the ball over a lit­tle more than I’d like, but when you’re 11 of 52 in the paint you’re not go­ing to win.”

The Pan­thers, who are sched­uled to play at county ri­val Calvert at 6:30 tonight, have al­ready ex­ceeded last year’s win to­tal with three so far.

“We’re mak­ing strides,” said Hutchi­son, whose team is a young group that fea­tures sev­eral fresh­men log­ging sig­nif­i­cant min­utes. “We’re 3-4, so we’re bring­ing it back one step at a time. We have Calvert on Fri­day and that’s what we’re fo­cused on.”

St. Charles is sched­uled to host Thomas Stone at 4 p.m. to­day. Af­ter open­ing the sea­son with a loss to Gwynn Park on Dec. 7, the Spar­tans have reeled off five wins in six games. Smith knows the team will need to con­tinue mak­ing strides as 2019 pro­gresses.

“We know we have a tough con­fer­ence,” he said. “We have tough com­peti­tors ev­ery game. SMAC is get­ting stronger and stronger. Ev­ery game is be­com­ing a grudge match and we have to make sure we bring that in­ten­sity from start to fin­ish.”

STAFF PHOTO BY ANDY STATES

Patux­ent’s Am­ber Al­der­man drib­bles up the court dur­ing the Pan­thers’ 59-27 loss to the vis­it­ing St. Charles Spar­tans on Wed­nes­day night.

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