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POTOMAC – A penalty-heavy, defensive battle raged on Jan. 25, at Churchill High School when the 14-1 Lady Bulldogs varsity basketball team hosted and defeated the 8-5 Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets by a score of 50-33.
The Bulldogs celebrated Teacher Appreciation Night by overcoming offensive woes and unleashing a defensive barrage on the Hornets. Damascus got into foul trouble early on, and even though the Hornets were the visiting team, fans in attendance voiced their displeasure at what they perceived to be questionable calls.
“Two of our starters got three fouls right away. The refs at the end of the game even apologized and said, ‘We took you out of the game,’” said Damascus Head Coach Scott Marko. “I still believe we were the better team. We were just panicked when that happened.”
As a result, the Hornets struggled offensively, and both teams endured a three-minute scoring drought in the first quarter. Even though the Bulldogs found open shots, multiple attempts missed their marks, leaving Damascus trailing by just three points heading into the second quarter.
Churchill extended its lead behind two big treys by senior Cat Correa before halftime. Correa led all scorers with 16 points and earned second-chance rebounds for the Bulldogs in the second half.
Churchill Head Coach Kate Blanken said that her team renewed its defensive focus at halftime.
“We worked on getting back on the transition defense, in particular, stopping the break…which I think we did a good job on in the second half,” she said. “Defense generates offense.”
Meanwhile, the tenacious Hornets tried to overcome multiple penalties by clawing for points and driving aggressively through the paint. Despite getting double-teamed by Churchill, Damascus junior Julia Tomlinson juked through the lane for a layup. Tomlinson finished the game with a team-high 10 points.
Damascus started to close in on Churchill’s lead at the end of the third quarter when Tomlinson led the Hornets on a 6-2 scoring run and the Bulldogs led by just 11 points. However, Damascus didn’t land a single basket in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, and Churchill to take advantage and extended its lead.
Bulldogs sophomore Parker Hill rebounded her own shot twice and finished the play on the second try. Correa stole a Damascus pass and drove down the length of the court in the opposite direction.
Even though Tomlinson and Damascus freshman Carly Linthicum made last-minute plays, Churchill’s lead proved too great to overcome as time ticked off the game clock.
Despite her team’s big victory and the playoffs drawing ever closer, Blanken said that the Bulldogs are still adhering to a “one-game-at-a time” mentality instead of thinking about the postseason.
Next up, Churchill will face Bethesda – Chevy Chase on Jan. 28. The Bulldogs beat the Barons 55-46 back in December to start the season. Meanwhile, the Hornets hope to return to form that same day against Northwood.
At the conclusion of the game, players from both the boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball teams recognized teachers who have made an impact. Each student athlete walked to midcourt with their chosen teacher, as Churchill’s announcer explained why this particular teacher made a difference for the player.