The Gwynn Park High School girls basketball team is not blessed with much height or physical inside presence this winter as was evidenced during the third quarter of Friday’s 2012 IAABO Christmas tournament consolation final at Prince George’s Community College, resulting in a 40-32 third quarter deficit to River Hill.
The Yellow Jackets do boast an abundance of quickness at every position, however, and that could be seen during the fourth quarter of Friday’s third-place contest and the result was a 52-48 victory through a 20-8 fourth quarter long run.
“That was one of our problems [during Thursday’s 58-40 loss to South Lakes (Va.)],” Gwynn Park coach Mike Strother said. “We weren’t playing our style of basketball. We focused on that this morning. We have to force them to play our style. If they play our style, then it takes us to our advantage and it showed today.”
Playing a River Hill squad that reached the 3A state final a year ago, the Yellow Jackets had the pace of the game dictated to them in the third quarter as a 24-21 halftime advantage turned into the eight-point deficit through a 19-8 third quarter long run.
The Hawks (6-2), while not an imposing team in terms of height, used its physical strength advantage inside the paint to produce numerous layup opportunities or close-range shots while also limiting Gwynn Park to no second chance points in the quarter.
For the game, in fact, River Hill outrebounded the Yellow Jackets, 58-35, and had 21 second chance points to its opponent’s eight with 24 points in the paint. Jenna Collins (11 points) had 16 rebounds with Jordan Masker (6 points) and Vicki Rowe (14 points) adding 13 and 10 rebounds, respectively, for the Hawks.
Led by the all-around play of senior guard Genesis Lucas (18 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks) and some pressure defense at three-quarters court, Gwynn Park turned the plodding affair into a track meet that more than benefitted the Yellow Jackets, who finished with 18 points off turnovers for the game.
Many of those baskets came in the fourth quarter and also included transition points that came from Lucas ripping down rebounds and pushing the ball down the court. The rapid pace allowed Gwynn Park to turn the eight-point deficit into a 46-40 lead with 3 minutes, 59 seconds left in the game through a 14-0 run.
“I knew I had to get things started to get my team going,” said Lucas, who scored three layups during the run, including two on stickbacks of missed transition attempts by her teammates. “It feels great. We came out with desire to win and basically played our style of basketball.”
Gwynn Park 52, River Hill 48
Gwynn Park (6-2) 4 20 8 20 — 52
River Hill (6-2) 7 14 19 8 — 48
Gwynn Park — TaKayla Ellis 4(2) 1-4 11, Genesis Lucas 7(1) 3-6 18, Kache’ Fields 2(1) 5, Crystal Strother 1(1) 0-2 3, Tanisha Cardwell 0 1-2 1, Armoni Mooney 1 1-4 3.
River Hill — Vicki Rowe 5 4-8 14, Jordan Masker 2 2-5 6, Julia Collins 1 1-2 3, Megan Sterling 5(2) 2-3 14, Jenna Collins 4(2) 1-2 11.