Long Reach rolls into break unbeaten for first time

Ninth-ranked Lightning holds off Glenelg, 42-36

Girls basketball

December 23, 2003|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Long Reach coach Kevin Broadus called yesterday's 42-36 girls basketball victory over Glenelg "a good Christmas present."

The road win gave the ninth-ranked Lightning the first undefeated record in school history going into the holiday break and kept Long Reach on track to win the school's first Howard County championship.

With four of its top five players returning from last season, including Division I college recruits Timisha Gomez (St. Joseph's) and Whitney Ward (George Mason), the Lightning (6-0, 6-0) had a decided advantage over Glenelg, a team that graduated four of its top five scorers and returned only two of its top eight players.

Long Reach hoped to use its superior quickness to defeat Glenelg.

But the No. 19 Gladiators (5-1, 5-1) stunned the Lightning in the first half by forcing 18 turnovers and winning the battle of the boards to trail 18-17. Glenelg played a tight 2-3 matchup zone defense that triple-teamed at the high post and prevented Long Reach from running its motion offense.

"Not having Carlie hurt," said Broadus.

Long Reach lost starting guard Carlie Nethken in the opening minutes to a mouth injury after she was elbowed.

Jordan Ambrose replaced Nethken and played well, scoring seven points and grabbing three rebounds.

"We got banged around with no calls but we played through it. At halftime we were upset by the score," said Ward, who led all scorers with 18 points and had six rebounds. "We shouldn't have given up so many points. We got an inspirational speech and we came out harder in the third quarter."

Ward scored 10 points that quarter and Long Reach outscored Glenelg 13-3 to pull away to a 31-20 lead after three quarters.

Glenelg missed several layups that quarter and shot 1-for-13 from the field.

But Gomez was held to three points through three quarters by a tenacious defense that frequently double-teamed her. She sank four straight free throws near the end of the game to finish with nine points, seven rebounds, five steals and five assists.

Kait Clark led a fourth-quarter Glenelg rally by sinking three three-point baskets, the last of which brought Glenelg within 40-36 with six seconds to play.

Glenelg, which defeated Long Reach twice last season, out-rebounded Long Reach 38-22, including a game-high eight by Alex Munday.

Chela Hamilton played a big game at guard for Glenelg with 11 points and numerous steals.

"We're happy just to stick with Long Reach because they have a superstar team and we weren't looked at as a team that would do anything," said Hamilton.

Glenelg finished 15-2 in the league and in second place behind River Hill last year. Long Reach was 12-6 in the league and 15-8 overall.

"We hoping this is our year," said Ward, who averaged 12.5 points a year ago.

Broadus said: "Our ladies are tough and they understand the game better than our past teams. But it's a long season and anything can happen."

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