It wasn’t a game you wanted to take your eye off for a second.
Two competitive SMAC girls basketball teams going head-to-head, the game up for grabs until the final two minutes of play.
Great Mills hosted La Plata in a conference match-up Wednesday night, with the Hornets aiming for a .500 record overall and to go over the .500 mark in the conference.
They reached that mark with the 62-53 win, improving to 7-7 overall and 3-2 in SMAC.
“We jumped out to a big lead, and they battled back,” Great Mills head coach Matthew Wood said. “They shoot the ball well, and they really did a nice job of making it a close game. We were missing a lot of layups, shots that we should be making.”
The win didn’t come easy for the Hornets, although they came out quick with the 23-14 first-quarter lead due in part to Tyniece Woodland’s 10 points and Sedatrius Mason’s success from the three-point line.
La Plata (4-13, 1-6) started to shut things down in the second quarter and took a 30-29 halftime lead with aggressive play from two-sport athlete Paige DeMent. DeMent, who also throws shot put for the indoor track and field team, put up 18 points to lead the Warriors.
“I think we faced equal competition tonight,” Dement said. “We didn’t play a full game. We kind of had a lot of turnovers and just couldn’t finish it. We need to be smarter with the ball and finish and just protect the ball.”
Great Mills led 42-38 after three quarters, including Woodland’s three-point shot that put the home fans on their feet to tie the game at 32. Woodland was the game-high scorer with 31 points, her season best.
Great Mills junior starting forward Jasmyn Berry started the fourth quarter with a solid shot around La Plata’s Emily Guare (7 points). Guare answered back and drew a foul from Hornets sophomore India King and completed both of her attempts at the free-throw line to close the gap again.
“We knew we had the confidence to play and beat this team and not let each other down, but pick each other up when were down,” Berry said. “We never stopped and just communicated the whole time. We’ve learned here that we need to hustle. There are things we still need to work on, but we’ll accomplish it.”
Lilly Clark (15 points) came through with a three-point shot to bring La Plata to within one point with less than half to play in regulation.
Great Mills went on a six-point run before La Plata’s Briana Jenkins was fouled and sank two of two. Great Mills starter Dione Jacobs (11 points) also had some good looks in the final minutes.
“She played well; she made some good decisions and key shots.” Jacobs said.
Woodland got hot again with back-to-back threes, and The Hornets took a 60-51 lead with just 1 minute and 37 seconds left to play. La Plata played hard until the very last minute, with Jenkins cashing in again.
“That’s what we do, we dig ourselves a whole and we don’t have enough to finish,” La Plata head coach Ricky Cue said. “By far, I had eight girls that played till the end. They made more shots than we did. They made some incredible shots, and it’s hard to defend when they’re shooting like that.”
Great Mills will host Chopticon, and La Plata will host Lackey tonight. Both games are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.