COLESVILLE – During the winter break, local high school boys and girls basketball teams compete in several holiday tournaments throughout the area before returning to the grind of their regular seasons play.
One of the girls’ basketball games featured Seneca Valley High School taking on Takoma Academy on the first day of the Springbrook Memorial Classic on Dec. 26. In a very back-and-forth affair, the Screamin’ Eagles came away on top, edging away with a 63-58 victory over the Tigers. The win stops Seneca Valley’s losing streak at two games.
“It’s one of these games that builds character,” said Seneca Valley Head Coach Ali Hashemzadeh. “I think we made a lot of mental mistakes that made the game a lot closer than it needed to be. But with that said, I’m glad with a win any day.”
The first quarter was tight, with Takoma taking a six-point lead, 21-15, at its end. Junior Delia Allen started hot for the Tigers with nine points in the quarter, then adding four more in the second quarter to finish the half with 13 points.
“Delia Allen’s a great scorer,” said Takoma Academy Head Coach Donald Thrower. “She’s been scoring since she was a freshman. She does what she normally does. She’s a good shooter, finds a way to get the ball in the hole.”
The Eagles attempted to mount a comeback in the second quarter with layups and fast-break points, dropping their deficit to one point at halftime.
Leading the way in the battle was senior Jasia Oliver, who dropped 17 of her team-high 24 points in the first half. She came out battling for loose balls and scoring points in the second half, leading to Hashemzadeh to call her the “backbone” of the Eagles.
“She’s our scorer. She’s our senior,” Hashemzadeh said. “She’s our floor-leader out there.”
“God was just with me today,” said Oliver. “Just wanted to go out there and work from my previous game because I wasn’t too proud of that, so I came out with a chip on my shoulder.”
Junior Bryana Barber also contributed to Seneca’s success in the paint, as she rebounded well and scored 12 points. Despite the rough battles near the rim, Barber’s inside presence allowed Seneca Valley to reclaim a 50-45 lead late in the third quarter.
“It’s hard most of the time playing down in the paint,” said Barber, “because they like to grab you at your arms to foul you, but I just tried to push through it…It was tough, but we worked through it as a team, and we ended up coming out with a win.”
In the fourth quarter, the Tigers did everything possible, including going on a mini-run to drop their deficit to one point. However, the Eagles continued their strong play and were able to hold off Takoma for the victory.
“We gave it our best shot,” said Thrower. “Missed quite a few free throws that seemed to prove the difference.”
Despite the loss, Allen finished the game as Takoma’s leading scorer with 20 points, while senior Kayleigh Smith dropped 13 points.
This year’s Springbrook Memorial Classic honored Justin Ellis, a former head coach for Springbrook High School’s varsity basketball team as well as a Wake Forest University basketball alum. He passed away on Oct. 11, 2019.
Hashemzadeh and his team truly appreciated playing this year’s Classic honoring Ellis.
“Hey, we love the opportunity to play,” said Hashemzadeh. “We appreciate the invite, and we’re looking forward to next year.”
Thrower also loved coaching his team in this winter tournament, as the Tigers made their second appearance in the annual event.
“We consider the honor to be in this tournament,” said Thrower. “There’s some nice talent, nice competition. We always find ourselves in a good game when we come here.”