The Richard Montgomery girls basketball team concluded their postseason run Saturday, March 3rd against Bethesda-Chevy Chase. After a bitter 61-55 loss to the Barons during the regular season, the Rockets were desperate for redemption. Unfortunately, they fell short, and B-CC advanced to the state semifinals that next Thursday.
The stadium was packed to the brim with spectators from each school. Spirited RM fans dressed in gold congregated in the student section, and Baron fans in white lined the bleachers on the opposing side.
Senior center Nusaibah Rashad won the jump ball, and the Rockets offense went to work. Freshman guard Ellie Tounkara navigated her way through the paint and put up a lay-up for a quick two points. The Rockets jumped ahead as B-CC had yet to score half-way through the first quarter.
The Rockets defense kept the Barons in check. RM was constantly contesting the ball, as players swatted at passes to force turnovers. Rashad played an essential role at post, as she both received passes under the basket and collected rebounds to maintain possession for her team.
Senior forward Caitlyn Clendenin, B-CC’s top scorer their previous match-up, finally put the Barons on the board with a lay-up with 3:30 remaining in the quarter. Yet still, RM continued to apply assertive man-on-man coverage, forcing the Barons to wear down their clock and put up miscalculated shots. At the end of the quarter, RM led 19-8.
B-CC took the minute’s break to discuss where to concentrate their defense. They targeted Rashad, and it took multiple players to box her out before they began to secure more rebounds for themselves.
RM executed all of the right plays, yet very few shots were actually landing. The Barons relentlessly pressured on defense, but the Rockets’ swift hand-offs at the top of the key helped to keep the ball out of their reach. With 5:20 left in the half, Tounkara flanked an unsuspecting B-CC player before grabbing the ball to secure a possession which would ultimately yield three-points for Richard Montgomery.
After some intense back-and-forth action, it became evident that the Barons were closing in. B-CC senior guard Charlotte Lowndes, an unforeseen threat, maneuvered through RM’s defense and kept her team trailing close behind. On defense, the Barons tightened up in the lane, and very few Rockets players were able to score from within it. At the half, RM was up by a marginal 25-21 lead.
The Rockets took to the court again before a roaring crowd. B-CC turned over their first possession in the first moments of the second half, but Clendenin quickly made up for the mistake, opening up scoring for the Barons. Rashad answered back immediately, standing as a cherry-picker under the basket, just waiting to receive the full-court pass.
RM had the lead and the momentum, but it would all come to a halt when Osborne was dealt a flagrant foul, much to the frustration of RM’s student section. Their offensive powerhouse had to sit out until the final quarter in fear of fouling out of the game, putting them at a disadvantage and forcing the team to play cautiously. B-CC followed the questionable call with a 3, putting them within 2 points of the Rockets.
It took a mere minute for the Barons to tie up the game and skip ahead of RM before calling a timeout a little over halfway through the quarter. The break was a wake-up call for the Rockets–when they returned, a traveling call on B-CC gave possession to RM and the girls took advantage of it.
Rashad led the charge, tying the game back up as soon as she could. Senior guard Karon Williams, who had been roughed up by a B-CC player early on in the quarter, was clearly fueled by frustration and used it to contribute heavily on offense. She would shoot outside the circle for 3, sprint to the basket, and snatch up her own rebound if necessary.
Williams closed out the quarter strong for the Rockets on the free-throw line, going 2 for 2 to catch back up to the Barons and end it 38-38.
Osborne returned to the game in the fourth quarter, though the threat of fouling out had sapped her of her full defensive potential. The Barons had no trouble penetrating through the paint, and grabbed rebounds with little competition. Williams kept RM in the race by making her free-throws, as she only missed one of her total nine attempts at the line.
But B-CC continued to pull away with the game. Osborne committed her fifth foul, and stepped off the court to conclude her high school career. Meanwhile, Lowndes and Clendenin flourished, overwhelming RM’s defense while picking up fouls in the process. The Barons were up 43-51, but the Rockets continued to give everything they had.
RM’s strategy was to get the ball to Rashad in the paint, but the ten-point gap was too large to bridge. Senior guard Deedee Yan put up a desperate three in the final minute, but B-CC emerged victorious, 49-56. Barons fans stormed the court in celebration.
Emotions were running high as Richard Montgomery’s seniors retired for the last time. This season was truly record-breaking for the Rockets. Osborne finished as RM’s second top-scorer of all time, with well over 1,000 points. The team’s impeccable 20-game winning streak was the first of its kind in Rocket history.
B-CC may have won this time, but RM’s arsenal of younger talent will surely put them to the test in the seasons to come.
Feature photo by Lifetouch