Lakeia Hayden and her fellow Aberdeen guards always look to the inside for their advantage. Thursday night, they found it in 6-foot-3 center Bri Jones as usual, but also in running the floor.
The No. 3 Eagles got 28 points and 30 rebounds from Jones and they converted some easy transition buckets late in the third quarter to take a lead over No. 2 Joppatowne that they would never give up. With their 65-59 victory, the visiting Eagles ended Joppatowne's 35-game winning streak, which had been the area's longest active run.
The defending Class 1A state champion Mariners had their last lead at 43-41 late in the third quarter, but the Eagles converted three straight turnovers, including two on nice feeds from Hayden in transition, to spark an 18-3 run lasting halfway through the fourth quarter.
With 3:51 left, Hayden fed Nia Alleyne for a layup when she snuck in on the baseline behind Jones. That capped the run and boosted Aberdeen to a 59-46 lead that carried the Eagles to their first win over Joppatowne in three years.
The Eagles' victory gives the two teams one loss each in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference Chesapeake Division game. The Eagles improve to 18-1 overall and 9-1 in the division, while the Mariners fall to 17-1 and 8-1 in the division.
"They play together very well," Aberdeen coach Stacy Liles said of her players. "They know each other, how they play, so when they click and they're feeling their chemistry, I know they're going to move the ball well."
Jones scored six points in the run and dominated the boards as the Mariners struggled to get the ball off the glass against her. Joppatowne used a 2-3 defense to try to outmaneuver the sophomore center, but they rarely got position on her.
"Whenever we work our offense around, we have to look for the middle to get open. That's how we get most of our points," said Hayden, who had five assists. "[Jones] works hard. She posts up. Whenever she posts up, she has a big body so when we feed her, we know she's going to make the layup."
Jones grabbed just two fewer rebounds than the entire Joppatowne team, as Aberdeen outrebounded the Mariners, 66-32.
With 2:28 to go, Jones fouled out of the game, and the Mariners rallied to within six on Kourtney Lewis-Orr's layup on a feed from Quay Malloy with 36 seconds to go. But they were too slow to make up ground despite six Aberdeen turnovers in the last two minutes.
"They played well and we lost our composure," Joppatowne coach Michael Harris said. "That's the first time they ran a lot of 2-3 [zone defense] against us and we got away from what we do, not taking our time and executing. There were a couple sets there we knew we had Bri in foul trouble and we just didn't do it. But with that said, Aberdeen played phenomenal."
In their first meeting in early January, the Mariners won 72-69 and the Eagles did a lot of full-court pressing. This time, the 2-3 zone clogged the middle and held the Mariners' three-point shooters to just one.
Zameria Jones led the Mariners with 17 points, while Shakara Head had 14 points and Malloy, 10 points and six assists. Jimmia McCluskey scored 11 for the Eagles and TK Fowkes had 10.
A--Alleyne 9, McCluskey 11, Stewart 4, Hayden 3, Jones 28, Fowlkes 10. Totals 26 12-25 65.
J--Malloy 10, Z.Jones 17, Head 14, Lewis-Orr 7, Scott 6, Tourville 4. Totals 23 11-17 59.
Half: J, 34-32.