ROCKVILLE – The defending 4A West regional champion Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School girls basketball team clashed on March 9 with the No. 1 Clarksburg to earn the right to play against Old Mill from Anne Arundel County in the 4A state semifinals game at Towson University on March 14.
In the end, that experience on the regional stage proved to be invaluable for the No. 3 Lady Barons, who took advantage of Clarksburg’s nerves and free-throw woes to handily beat the Coyotes, 50-33.
B-CC relied on sophomore guard Caroline Orza, whose game-high 15 points helped give the Lady Barons a comfortable early lead in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Coyotes fought hard but could not seem to get a bucket to drop, as they trailed by 12 points.
B-CC’s stifling defense forced the Coyotes to scratch and claw for an open shot, and often that defense forced Clarksburg to miss wildly. The Coyotes struggled at the free-throw line as well, and completed 10 free-throws on 35 attempts.
“When you have a group that has never been here before, they were nervous. Even routine, basic layups; we don’t miss that many layups; we’re a pretty good layup shooting team,” said Clarksburg Head Coach Sissy Natoli. “I think the kids just got caught in the moment. It was exciting for them, and I think they just couldn’t lock in mentally to play together as a team.”
The Barons, on the other hand, dictated the pace of the game and pushed Clarksburg out of the paint. While Clarksburg did have several shining moments, especially back-to-back 3-point baskets by guards Miki Howson and Sadejah Smith in the second quarter, B-CC responded back every time the Coyotes tried to get into an offensive rhythm.
When Clarksburg cut the lead to seven in the third quarter, sophomore guard Lily Roberson landed a trey before time expired. Another 3-pointer, courtesy of junior Jessica Katz, in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach for the Coyotes.
“As far as performing today, we struggled the entire game from the beginning of the game until the end,” said Natoli. “We had some good runs, cut it to within seven, and I’m thinking, ‘Now is our time.’ But we still didn’t have enough firepower to counterattack experience.”
B-CC now has nearly a week to prepare to face Old Mill on an even bigger stage. According to Head Coach Ryan Ingalls, the Lady Barons aren’t too familiar with their squad, but they are welcoming the upcoming challenge.
“We have some time to prepare, so we’ll be ready and we’re excited to go to Towson,” said Ingalls. “This is a great experience for all the girls, and we have a pretty young team and a lot of young girls that are contributing. This is great, great for the program.”