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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Charles H. Flowers High School girls basketball team established an aggressive style of play early on to comfortably defeat Seneca High School (S.C.), 57-41, in the opening round of the 10th annual Title IX Classic at the D.C. Armory on Dec. 27.
Flowers’ Kaniyah Harris finished with a team-high 23 points and eight rebounds to lead the way, and Cori Robinson added 10 points on 3-for-3 shooting from deep to help the Jaguars seal the easy win and remain undefeated for the season at 5-0.
The game was close in the opening minutes of the game, but toward the end of the first quarter, Flowers turned up the defensive intensity – which carried over into the second quarter – ballooning a nine-point lead at the end of the first to a 22-point lead at the half.
“I think my kids came out with a lot of energy. That’s kind of how we want to play,” said Flowers first-year Head Coach Roderick Hairston. “In the second half, we kind of wavered a little bit, but I think they pushed through. I think it was a decent, solid game… My kids hung in there and executed.”
Harris constantly attacked the rim, led numerous fast breaks and applied forceful defense to help the Jaguars establish and keep a comfortable lead for the majority of the game.
“My mindset was to come out here with energy and effort, to keep pushing my girls no matter what the score is or how much time was left on the clock. We gotta come out here and have some heart,” Harris said. “I think we came out really strong. Might have had some ups and downs but we were able to help push each other.”
The junior guard said consistent defensive pressure was the key to the win. Expectedly, Hairston spoke highly of Harris’s performance.
“Kaniyah Harris, one of our leaders on our team, she did a great job leading her team,” Hairston said of his premier player. “She rebounded, she ran the team, she scored, she made jump shots. I mean…she’s an all-American player.”
The Bobcats, led by Head Coach Ashlen Dewart, struggled from the field early and displayed shaky ball-handling to make it hard to stay in the game.
“We just came out slow. If we played the same way we played in the second half, in the first half, it would’ve been a lot closer of a game,” Dewart said.“The first half, I just think they (Flowers) were the aggressors, and we took a step back, and we should have been the aggressors the entire game…We dug that hole the first half, and we couldn’t fight our way out of it. We didn’t have enough time to fight our way out of it.”
Seneca outscored Flowers 26-20 in the second half. But because the Jaguars built a 22-point cushion in the opening 16 minutes, they could afford to be outscored by a few points late in the game.
Seneca guard Anne-Hamilton LeRoy was the game’s top performer, demonstrating a level of skill and IQ her teammates or opponents possessed. The senior scored a game-high 24 points to go with eight boards in the loss.
“We started out as the aggressors in the first two minutes I thought, but we kind of backed off and they jumped up on us really quickly,” said, LeRoy who will go on to play for Longwood University in 2019.
“If we would’ve played as we did in the second half, I feel like it would’ve been a different ball game.”
The Bobcats (5-3) were outrebounded 36-25, which Flowers used to tack on multiple putback lay-ins to sort of keep Seneca at bay throughout the evening. Rebounding, LeRoy said, was a major difference-maker as well.
“Rebounds. We got killed on the boards,” LeRoy said. “If we would’ve boxed out and went for rebounds and met our passes, that would’ve limited the turnovers we had, and we would have gotten more second-chance points.”
Flowers will take on Anacostia in the second round of the treasured Title IX Classic tournament on Dec. 28 at the D.C. Armory.