Unable to keep pace
Panthers lose to St. Charles to begin 2019 slate
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.”
Patuxent’s Amber Alderman dribbles up the court during the Panthers’ 59-27 loss to the visiting St. Charles Spartans on Wednesday night.