When asked prior to the season who would be the contenders in the Prince George's County's 4A League, Suitland High School girls basketball coach Keith Lynch threw out familiar names such as Charles H. Flowers and Henry A. Wise among others, but he also stated the team he feared most was Eleanor Roosevelt, which he claimed was the county's “most overlooked team.”
The seventh-ranked Raiders — unfortunately for his No. 6 Rams — justified Lynch's concerns Thursday night by using their superior length and athleticism to hand Suitland its first loss of the season through a 60-35 victory in Greenbelt.
“Eleanor Roosevelt is a very good team, a well-coached team,” said Lynch, whose squad dropped to 5-1 heading into the Christmas break. “They are very athletic and very fast. They just came to play. Roosevelt was very aggressive and they outhustled us.”
Roosevelt (5-0), which relies on a mix of six veteran seniors and a pair of talented 5-foot-11 underclassmen in freshman Kaila Charles and sophomore Tolu Omokore, used a variety of zone and man-to-man defenses in the halfcourt and fullcourt to rattle the smaller Rams into nearly 30 turnovers.
“We really wanted to see if their guards could handle the ball pressure,” Raiders coach Delton Fuller said. “We run three different presses — diamond, 44 and black. We started out in diamond and at one point they went five times without getting the ball up the court. I am very, very pleased with the girls.”
Roosevelt limited Suitland to seven first quarter points to take a 17-7 lead and then thoroughly put the game away by outscoring the Rams, 10-3, in the final eight minutes.
The Raiders blocked six shots in the second half, four by Charles (14 points, eight rebounds), and outrebounded Suitland, 31-20, for the game. Omokore (11 points) recorded a game-high 15 rebounds.
“[Defense] is what we work on a lot in practice,” said Roosevelt's Daria Simmons, who led the way offensively with 22 points, including 15 in the first half to stake the Raiders to a 34-19 lead. “We knew this was a big game. They are a team we lost to last year and they're a ranked team.”
Leading by 15 at the half, Roosevelt extended its advantage to 18 points going into the final quarter and then held the Rams scoreless until Jade Young knocked down a 3-pointer with 1 minute, 19 seconds left in the game.
Renee Kydd paced Suitland with 15 points.
Eleanor Roosevelt 60, Suitland 35
Suitland (5-1) 7 12 13 3 — 35
Eleanor Roosevelt (5-0) 17 17 16 10 — 60
Suitland — Brianna Knight 1 1-2 3, Janay Weems 0 3-6 3, Renee Kydd 5(1) 4-6 15, Taleah Williams 3 0-0 6, Ashley Knight 1 0-2 2, Jade Young 2(2) 0-0 6.
Roosevelt — Sandra Okafor 1 0-0 2, Rebecca Bolinger 1 0-0 2, Kaila Charles 6 2-3 14, Tolu Omokore 4 3-4 11, Daria Simmons 5(1) 11-13 22, Jazmin Faulkner 3 1-2 7, Alannah Balyina 1 0-0 2.