The Richard Montgomery girls basketball team improved their undefeated record to 13-0 after a convincing 57-32 victory over Quince Orchard last Friday night. After spending the past three games playing in unfamiliar territory, their matchup against the Cougars was the Rockets’ first home game in nearly two weeks.
RM’s senior center Nusaibah Rashad won the tip off, setting up the team’s forward momentum that would win them 6 unanswered points to start the game. QO called a desperate time-out to muster up a strategy to fight the Rockets’ aggressive defense.
RM remained composed, and while senior guard Karon Williams charged the basket, Rashad waited below, snatching rebounds and racking up points. At the end of the first quarter, the Rockets only had a marginal lead at 10-8.
The Cougars would look to their 6’4” freshman center Tatiana Popa to win back the deficit by posting up under the basket. However, a foul-conscious Rashad guarded her closely and stifled nearly every attempt. “I had to play off of her a little bit, but I still [kept up] tough defense,” said Rashad.
Within their week-long break from games, the Rockets had plenty of time to work on their full-court press–and it certainly paid off. During the press’s evening debut, RM managed to pry QO of possession on an inbounding play. Their relentless defense continued to contribute to the Rockets’ success throughout the night, and at the half, RM had double their opponent’s points, 26-14.
The Rockets found their rhythm in the third quarter. Williams and senior forward Melanie Osborne put up shots both at a distance and in the circle, Osborne with a perfect free-throw record and Williams contributing 16 points by the end of the night. Entering into the fourth quarter, the Rockets led 45-23.
As the clock began to wind down, the Cougars resorted to frantic double- and even triple-teaming. RM’s most lethal shooters were left open, and many players, including senior forward Chloe Sherman and freshman guard Calie Dunn, had opportunities to score. Once the Rockets neared a 30-point advantage over QO, they swapped their starters for some younger talent. Finally, the game was won 57-32.
It was RM’s well-developed understanding of the Cougar offense that allowed them to pull away. “We just had to focus on getting around their screens, because they’re a huge screening team,” explained freshman guard Ellie Tounkara.
Despite the team moving from the 12th to the 7th spot in The Washington Post’s Metropolitan-area girls basketball rankings, they are still looking to improve on many aspects of their play–most importantly, maintaining possession. “I think we’re doing well, but we still need to stop having so many turnovers,” said Rashad.
This upcoming Friday, the Rockets will face Wootton, who they beat by over 20 points just two weeks ago. Wootton, with senior guard Zoey Goldberg who averages 23 points per game, will be looking to continue their positive energy after an unexpected win over top-ranked Gaithersburg.
Featured photo by Lifetouch