POOLESVILLE – When the Poolesville High School girls basketball team traveled to play at Damascus on Jan. 4, the Falcons dug themselves a big hole before rallying to take the lead. However, they would eventually fall to the Swarmin’ Hornets, 51-48.
In the rematch at Poolesville on Feb. 22, the Falcons did the exact opposite, never trailing in a 53-39 win. The victory was Poolesville’s 12th straight and gave the Falcons the Montgomery County 3A/2A Division Championship.
“Overall, I thought we played pretty well on both sides of the ball,” Poolesville Head Coach Fred Swick said. “I thought defensively we were really active. I thought offensively we moved the ball well and got some good looks around the basket… it was a good solid performance.”
After struggling to get going in the first matchup, the Falcons (18-4) didn’t wait to take control of the contest. They scored the first six points and held Damascus (14-6) scoreless for almost four minutes to start the game. Poolesville’s 3-2 zone defense flummoxed the Swarmin’ Hornets all night, not allowing them to get many clean looks at the basket. When Damascus tried to push the pace, the Falcons responded as well with solid defense in transition.
“I know the first game we played we started off slow but tonight we came out and really wanted it,” Poolesville junior forward Makayla Lemarr said about her team’s fast start. “Both teams showed they really wanted it, but we came out and proved a point.”
The Falcons led 12-8 after the first quarter and pushed the lead to 27-18 at halftime. Senior guard Sarah Mullikin scored 11 of Poolesville’s 15 points in the second quarter and was one of three Falcons players in double-figures. Poolesville senior guard Ali Haddaway scored a game-high 14 points; Mullikin added 13 and LeMarr made 12, all in the second half.
Despite leading at the half, Swick thought his team left some opportunities at the rim. The Falcons run a methodical offense that works to get the best shots possible, and they sometimes failed to take advantage by missing layups and committing turnovers.
“There was a little section where we hurt ourselves a little bit,” Swick said. “I thought in the first half five or six wide open shots we didn’t make. I really thought at halftime we could’ve been up 15.”
When the Swarmin’ Hornets trimmed the lead to three points about halfway through the third quarter, it looked like those mistakes could come back to bite them. But the Falcons’ ball movement on offense and suffocating defense eventually wore down Damascus attempts to push the pace.
Lemarr’s putback off a Makenzie Magaha miss pushed the lead back up to five, and Poolesville led 39-31 at the end of the third quarter. Back-to-back layups by Mary Hobbs and Haddaway increased the lead to 12, and the Falcons led by double digits the rest of the way.
The Swarmin’ Hornets hit just two shots from the field in the final frame, and Lemarr scored Poolesville’s last 10 points to seal the victory.
“It just brings the team down after a while,” Damascus Head Coach Scott Marko said. “Missed shots, missed calls and just not playing well on both ends.”
Both teams could see each other again in the MPSSAA 2A West regional playoffs. Damascus and Poolesville play in the same section of the region, where the Falcons will be the top seed. The loss leaves Demascus in a tie for third with Walkersville, and both schools will participate in a coin flip to see what seed they will be when the playoffs start on March 5.