- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Taking their lumps does not even begin to describe how humbling this rebuilding season has been for the Lackey Chargers.
Entering Monday’s home game against the Thomas Stone Cougars, winless Lackey had lost all 15 of its previous games by an average margin of 44.3 points.
That included lopsided setbacks by 90 and 82 points to Southern Maryland Athletic Conference powers North Point and Westlake, respectively, where Lackey scored just a half-dozen and two handfuls of points, respectively.
During those 15 games, the closest Lackey had come to an opponent was a 15-point defeat to La Plata right before Christmas.
By last Wednesday’s game versus Northern, which was lost by 38 points, Lackey head coach Lydia Ford, who replaced Art Flood after he stepped down during the season, was forced to bring up the program’s entire junior varsity squad because only a few varsity players remained with the club due to injury or personal reasons.
There was much reason for Lackey to celebrate Monday’s development. It was another loss, but unlike the others, Lackey was actually in position to win the game in the final seconds.
Prodded by a small but enthusiastic fan turnout, Lackey tied the game at 38 with 1 minute and 39 seconds left and later stole an inbounds pass with 5.3 ticks remaining, down by just two points with a chance to tie or even win.
Lackey lost control of the ball after the steal and settled for a 42-40 nail-biting loss to a shocked Stone team, which easily handled the Chargers in a non-conference contest by 35 points at their first meeting Dec. 7.
“Yeah, it does,” Ford said about how losing by just a pair of points almost feeling like a win. “We tell the girls, ‘Don’t hang your head low.’ They’re all upset. But this is the first time they actually fought and stayed in the game. And I’m happy.”
This came against a Stone opponent now owning a 10-6 overall record and 4-2 mark in the SMAC. Lackey is 0-16, 0-6.
“They were a lot different team than the first time we played them,” Stone’s Keisha Davis said after tallying eight points in the much-tighter-than-expected win, her face still showing some signs of being stunned well after the final buzzer. “The momentum of the game [was on their side in the second half]. I know I hurt my team by fouling out [with 1:26 left], but the rest of my team picked it up.”
Jade Sink led Stone with 10 points.
Stone captain Kayeoni Jenkins (6 points) added about having to sweat out a win, “It was a tough game; they fought a lot. My team worked hard. I was worried in the last quarter. They played a lot better, especially from the first game we played them. Everybody [on our team] had that in mind today, that we were going to win [easily] and get on out of here. My team got down [emotionally], and we just got to pick it up.”
Lackey displayed its inexperience by going just 9 of 29 (31 percent) at the free-throw line, draining all their free-throw conversions in the fourth while missing 11 in the final quarter. Stone finished 10 of 23 (43.5 percent) at the line.
Despite the frustration of all the missed free throws, the fact that Lackey could pin the shortcoming on the foul line, not just being overwhelmed by an opponent, was a victory in and of itself.
“I was mad because I missed a lot of my free throws,” said Lackey freshman Todjenee Ford, who finished with 12 points, missing 11 at the line, but hardly represented the losing culture that has been existent on her tea. She was among the junior varsity call-ups who enjoyed a winning season on their level. “We’re getting better [because we only lost by two points]. Good players [have come from JV]. I feel like I belong on the varsity level.
“We could’ve won. We probably can win the states [once our JV players get used to playing on varsity].”
Lackey’s coach added, “I’m trying to get the girls ready for next year and the year after with 10 freshmen and four sophomores from JV. So, by the time they become juniors and seniors, Lackey will be the team you have to look out for. We’ll look like a Calvert, North Point team where we’ve been playing together three, four years.”
Lackey senior Kiona Montgomery boasted a game-high 14 points, leading the team’s rally in the fourth with eight points.
Lackey out-scored Stone 30-25 in the second half, including 19 fourth-quarter points. The offensive production in the fourth was as much or more than Lackey had scored in seven of its games this season.
Montgomery was the only Lackey player who did not struggle at the line, hitting a pair of free throws with 3:01 left to cut Stone’s lead to 38-33. After Todjenee Ford stole the ball on the ensuing sequence, Montgomery then scored on a drive to make it a 38-35 game.
Another Lackey steal with two minutes left led to another Montgomery bucket, reducing Stone’s lead to 38-37.
Following a pair of Stone missed free throws, Lackey senior Jessire Elder drew a foul on the rebound, sending her to the line in the double bonus. She split the free throws to tie the game at 38 with 1:39 left.
But 13 seconds later, Sink’s clutch jumper gave Stone the lead for good at 40-38.
Lackey had its chances to at least tie the score but missed five free throws in the final 1:26.
“Coach Ford did a great job with [Lackey], but our girls got lucky,” Stone head coach Jermel Escalera said. “It was one of those games where we told [our players], you let a team hang around, it’s going to be a fight to the very end. And our girls got a reality check.
“[Lackey] was a lot more aggressive, a lot more assertive [than the first time we played them]. They believe in themselves.”
Stone boys rout Lackey
The Stone boys basketball team continued its hot streak Monday night with a 75-48 victory over the visiting Chargers.
Stone (11-5, 6-0) have won six straight games and will travel to Patuxent for a contest at 6:30 tonight.
Stone and North Point (15-1, 6-0) are the only two SMAC boys unbeatens left in the conference, with six games remaining on their respective schedules.
The Cougars took a 16-13 lead after the first quarter and out-scored Lackey 46-14 in the second and third periods to secure the victory. The Chargers outscored Stone 21-13 in the fourth.
Stone senior Michael Briscoe led all scorers with 20 points and eight rebounds. Junior Jourdan Lamberth scored 16 points and had five boards, and senior forward Jasc Williams added 12 points and six rebounds in the victory.
Lackey’s C.J. Redden was the team’s high scorer with nine points.
Lackey (4-11, 2-4) will travel to Huntingtown at 6:30 tonight.
email@example.com Staff writer AJ Mason contributed to this report.