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Gross powers Pax girls past Lackey on senior night
By TAMMY SHOWALTERStaff writer
She can sing and she can shoot.
Patuxent sophomore Kayla Gross wanted to send her senior teammates out with a win.
After Gross sung her rendition of the national anthem, she got down to business on the court as the sophomore finished with a team-high 14 points the only Panther in double digits on Wednesday night as Patuxent’s girls basketball team pushed past Lackey, 50-35.
“I was very positive coming in,” Gross said. “Our girls have a good mindset. When we play together, it’s good. I knew our seniors would come together. They needed this. When the score might be down, we just fight to come back.”
Patuxent head coach Stan Hampton couldn’t be more proud of his team and his six shining seniors who have turned the program around right before his eyes with the most wins in six years.
The Panthers end the regular season at 6-15 overall and an eighth-place 5-7 in SMAC.
“I want the team to know that they have done something that hasn’t been done in six years,” Hampton said. “They have changed the persona and the atmosphere of basketball in the school and I want the underclassmen to see what can happen when you work hard.”
Senior center Brianna Thomas (9 points) was dependable, getting second looks as she rebounded. Gross and Amy Samilton got out on the fast breaks after steals from Sharde Jackson. Thomas was happy with the season turnaround.
“Well, honestly I didn’t think we’d have the successful season that we did,” Thomas said. “It meant a lot to win this game. I know they [Lackey] only had two wins, so we had our head up. Our defense and the way we were talking and passing the ball was working tonight. I think we got too excited at times [causing turnovers]. I’ve learned from coach [Hampton] to stay strong and never keep your head down.”
Courtney Hill, Samilton and Bre Becker added six points each. Hill, a four-year varsity player, said the win and the season has been inspirational.
“We’ve been seen as the underdog and we’re not the underdogs anymore,” Hill said. “We made a really big comeback [this season]. This win is inspirational on our senior night and the last time on this court.”
Guard Siani Teaseley and teammate Dominque Sluss ran the floor for Lackey on this night. With 3 minutes 2 seconds left in the second quarter, Sluss’ jumper put the visitors up for the first time at 20-19, but the Panthers took a 27-22 lead into the locker room at the half and began the final quarter of play with a 40-31 lead.
Teaseley took home a game-high 15 points despite fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
“They played man-to-man well. We kind of got away from it later and then the game went down the tubes,” Lackey head coach Torez Mitchell said. “I told them at halftime that we have to continue to drive and play well and stick to the plan.”
Sluss is keeping a positive attitude in hopes of leading the team to finish out the season playing well.
“Basically coach is trying to deal with what we have, which isn’t a lot and we’re just trying to make the best of it,” Sluss said. “That’s all we can do is make the best of it. We should have won. All I’m hoping for is another win.”
Teaseley wants to work on the team’s ball movement and running the offense as well as keeping the fouls to a minimum.
“We can never give up, we just have to keep playing.” Teaseley said.
Lackey (2-15, 1-10) finishes up the regular season at 6:30 tonight at home against North Point, which clinched the SMAC title on Wednesday night in a 73-44 victory over Huntingtown.