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n Ryken girls knock off Chopticon for third straight win" /> n Ryken girls knock off Chopticon for third straight win">
The numbers pop out at you upon initial look.
Winning by 37.6 points per game over the last three games, Marissa Somerville averaging 20.6 points per game over the last three games, but the number that matters most to the St. Mary’s Ryken Knights girls basketball team, three, as in three wins in the last three games.
The Knights won its third straight game on Saturday night, 79-33, over the visiting Chopticon Braves and reached the double-digit mark in wins, picking up the win number 10 in the season.
After playing in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz., where the Knights lost two of three games, head coach Kris Sandberg and company have gotten back on track in a big way, especially on the offensive end where things have began to click.
“We have been working on moving the ball around and really getting some movement out of our offense,” Sandberg said. “It was a little stagnant there for a while. I think everybody has brought into the system now.”
That proved to be true on Saturday as the Knights took a 5-5 tie with 6 minutes 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter against Chopticon and turned it into a 25-7 lead to end the first period of play.
Senior Cydney Smith was one of five Ryken players to score in double digits in the win on Saturday with 15 points.
Somerville led the way with a game-high 16 points, Deja Ford added 15, Brittani Burgess added 14 and LaChae Leftridge added 13 points, respectively.
The key to the offensive explosion and winnings ways for Ryken has been the unselfish nature of the team.
“Even though it’s been blowout wins, no one wants to rush their own shot,” Smith said. “We wait, remain patient and there is always going to end up with someone being open. We have just done a great job of finding that open person. That way, you get everyone in the mix and you can still score.”
Ford added of the keys to the recent offensive explosion, “Teamwork, good defense, good offense and sharing the ball. We have been running our plays correctly and finding the open players.”
Ryken (10-3, 3-1 WCAC) also used its defense to kick start its offense, holding Chopticon to only four points scored in the second quarter, a welcome sight to the team after its holiday tournament showing.
“We had to get back and get in our rhythm and everything like that,” Burgess said. “It has been defensive intensity and that’s all. That’s all we have had to do. Our defense was our biggest mistake in Arizona. It’s the reason we lost those two games.”
Confidence is rising as Ryken now heads into a portion of the schedule that includes a meeting with undefeated Paul VI (Va.) on Friday and a Sunday meeting with Good Counsel, who is also atop the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference standings at 4-1 in the conference.
Saturday’s win came one day after a 64-25 over Bishop Ireton (Va.). Somerville had 20 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists in the win, while Burgess added 17 points, seven rebounds, seven steals and four assists. Ford, a freshman, had 11 points, four rebounds, two steals and three assists.
“I think it is very important because we have a very tough week coming up,” Smith said of the recent winning trend. “So, we’re just getting back into the flow of things and we’re playing much better together. This has been very important.”
Chopticon (9-2, 1-0 SMAC) was led by Ty Priest with 13 points. The loss came one day after a 48-14 win over Huntingtown.
Ericka Boyden added 11 points for the Braves and head coach Joe Cook, who prepares to take on an undefeated team itself in Southern Maryland Athletic Conference foe North Point at 6:30 tonight at home.
“We’re getting ready to see North Point and Calvert and that’s why we put Ryken on our schedule,” Cook said. “We’re using this as an experience to get better. Not that we wanted to come out here and get beat up, but at the same time, we wanted to gain some experience. I think we’re going to get the same intensity from [North Point and Calvert].”