By Carlos Alfaro @carlosalfarorod
POOLESVILLE — The outcome of the season opener between the Poolesville Falcons and the Northwood Gladiators was as predictable as can be, and the 58-30 victory for the Falcons proved it.
The visiting Gladiators were coming off an abysmal season, in which they won once; their only victory being a close game against the Kennedy Cavaliers.
On the other hand, the Falcons won their first 2A state championship in an undefeated season that saw them dispatch teams in merciless fashion. It even became routine to see teams fall to the Falcons by over 40 points, sometimes by over 50. The match-up on Thursday night ended in similar fashion.
“I knew it was going to be a challenge and I told the girls to be prepared,” said Gladiators head coach David Prophet. “What I told them at the beginning was the pressure was all on them, because Northwood only won one game last year.”
The way the game started, however, made one think that both teams were starting anew. The Gladiators played like they forgot about the disaster of last season, and the Falcons were still getting back in their groove after losing valuable seniors.
A three-point lead by the Falcons at the end of the first quarter showed how rusty the defending champs were: they missed all seven of their free throws. That statistic reflected badly on the Gladiators as well, as the cursed free throws for the Falcons wouldn’t last, and the foul-heavy defense of the Gladiators sent them to the line enough times for them to get it right.
The second quarter saw the lead get bigger and the Falcons defense more effective, as they held the Gladiators to only seven points, compared to their own 15. Out of their six visits to the free throw line, the Falcons made four of the shots. Senior guard Alli Haddaway made 11 points before halftime to help widen the margin, but she did not score again after halftime. She gave way for junior forward Mary Hobbs, who made 14 points over all four quarters.
Junior guard Jordan Sales was the top scorer for the Gladiators with 11 points, the only player to get to double-digits on her team and tied for second-most in the entire game with Haddaway.
The third quarter saw a closer game, albeit not enough for the Gladiators to come back, even though they put up 13 points. The Falcons one-upped them, only barely, with 14 points of their own. The foul trouble was kept at a minimum, and if the Gladiators had kept this play up, they could have held their own with the Falcons, or at least keep the score tighter.
With the score at 42-28 going into the fourth quarter, the game could technically be up for grabs if the Gladiators played an uncharacteristically strong game. The Falcons had other plans, and held them to only two points to win the game.
“This is the first baby step; hopefully we’ll continue to move forward and improve each game and start making some shots,” said Falcons head coach Fred Swick.