By Carlos Alfaro @carlosalfarorod
POTOMAC — Close calls were not enough for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Barons girls varsity basketball team as they fell to the Churchill Bulldogs, 55-46.
At no point did B-CC take the lead against Churchill, but they came close on multiple occasions. The Barons tied up the game only for the Bulldogs to widen the lead soon after, a frustrating pattern that expressed itself in escalating foul trouble for the visiting Barons.
B-CC got off to a rough start, as Churchill went on a six-point streak to start the game off. The Barons responded with their own six-point streak at the end of the first quarter to cut down the lead to 12-9.
B-CC sophomore small forward Caroline Orza had four points in the first quarter but 19 in total as the top scorer of both teams. A threat in the paint, it took Churchill three quarters to neutralize her, culminating in a scoreless fourth quarter for Orza.
Churchill junior guard Brittini Martin made 14 points for the Bulldogs as the highest scorer of the home team, while senior guard and teammate Cat Correa followed close behind with 12 points of her own.
Fouling was particularly egregious in the second quarter: although both teams scored 12 points, the Bulldogs made 10 of those from free throws. The Barons made eight points from the line.
“The second half, we kind of knew what we needed to do, shots weren’t falling, people got in foul trouble on both sides,” said B-CC head coach Ryan Ingalls.
After halftime, both teams sought to try to shake the other one off. Instead, the game became a constant game of catch-up for B-CC, as Churchill kept them just shy of getting a lead. A late three-point shot by Orza would tie the game up at 37 in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs’ Leah Rubino retaliated with a last-second shot to pull ahead by two.
As the game drew to an end, the fouls that were a nuisance before, became B-CC’s downfall. On six trips to the free-throw line, Churchill shot five-of-11 in the fourth quarter; not a great performance by any measure, but enough to disrupt the momentum of the Barons and extend the lead to a more comfortable margin.
Three free throws from B-CC junior point guard Jessica Katz were the last shots the Barons would take, and while it got them close to tying it up for the fourth time in the game, a free throw by Martin and a bucket by Correa finished the Barons for good.
“I think a lot of what tonight turned out to be to our advantage is that we have 10 returners, so we come with a lot of maturity, which I was really proud of how they stayed calm in the second half,” said Churchill head coach Kate Blanken.