GAITHERSBURG – Caroline Orza sat on the bench and watched her teammates run up and down the court. She had entered into foul trouble early in the game against Gaithersburg High School on Dec. 20, and was relegated to the bench for a few minutes as a result.
That vantage point, though, was ideal for Orza to assess the situation and map out a way to help her team come back from a deficit when she returned.
With Orza momentarily sidelined, undefeated Bethesda–Chevy Chase High School (B-CC) found itself trailing the Trojans by more than 10 points. Playing from behind was a new feeling for the Barons, especially after steamrolling two of their previous opponents.
That time on the bench, though, had allowed Orza to regroup and to unleash a tremendous second-half performance that would help give B-CC the comeback win over Gaithersburg, 77-66.
Orza finished the game with 34 points; 25 of those points came in the second half. The Barons (4-0) had trailed for most of the first half, but the junior guard kicked her game into high gear to help her team pull away and maintain its undefeated streak.
“In the second half, we had been coming back, and we were down four (points.) I just knew looking at everyone in the locker room that we wanted it so much more than they did,” said Orza. “I was really just feeding off my teammates. I was trying to get them the ball in places where I could make something happen, they were trying to get me the ball, and we were really feeding off our defense, too.”
B-CC Head Coach Ryan Ingalls provided the upcoming winter break as a reason why the Barons defense started the game uncharacteristically flat. However, that defensive lull offered a prime opportunity for Gaithersburg to execute its game plan.
The Trojans (3-2) boasted three players with double-digit points scored against the Barons. Senior Jada Thornton (23 points) and juniors Morgan Brogden (16 points) and Jemmuel Genova (13 points) helped give Gaithersburg its early lead. Brogden and Genova combined for a hat trick of 3-point baskets in the first quarter, and Thornton contributed a trey of her own to open the second quarter.
Brogden stole the ball from the Barons and turned the turnover into two points. Thornton hit a fade-away jumper and aimed from behind the arc every time she found an open shot. The Trojans were clicking on all cylinders as B-CC’s offense lagged. However, the Barons jolted awake at the end of the first half and pulled within four points.
That lead was erased early in the second half when a layup by Barons power forward Nora Fairbanks-Lee tied the game for the first time since the opening minutes. The go-ahead basket also came courtesy of Fairbanks-Lee, who took the bounce pass from guard Lily Roberson and spun around in the paint for a layup.
The Barons wouldn’t relinquish that lead, even after big plays from Thornton and Genova. Thornton delivered 11 points at the free-throw line, while Genova netted another 3-pointer and drove through the lane for layups.
Meanwhile, Orza made her presence known all over the court; she and her teammates beat Gaithersburg on both the defensive and the offensive boards. The Trojans found open shots, but many of them missed their mark.
“We didn’t communicate, we didn’t rotate, we didn’t do the small things that we did in the first half,” said Gaithersburg Head Coach Adrian McDaniel. “They beat us back on transition buckets. In the first half, we stopped the transition buckets, in the second half we didn’t. We didn’t have the same intensity in the second half as we did in the first half.”
Ingalls said that she told her team to increase the defensive pressure in the second half, and the Barons responded.
“We needed to focus more on defense; that’s one of our strengths,” said Ingalls. “It really came down to just being patient and trusting in ourselves. We got a little flustered in the first half, but we settled in, played together and got the win.”
With winter break starting on Dec. 23, both teams now have over two weeks to prepare for their next opponent. The Trojans will travel to Quince Orchard, and the Barons will host Whitman High School, both on Jan. 7.