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GREENBELT – With his team trailing Bowie High School 20-18 at halftime, Eleanor Roosevelt High School Head Coach Aubrey Butler had a simple message for his players when the Lady Raiders were in danger of going home in the first round of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 4A state playoffs a year after winning the state championship.
“He asked us at halftime if we were ready to pack up and leave early,” Eleanor Roosevelt guard Trinity Workman said. “And as a team, we agreed that we wanted to have practice tomorrow and we wanted to move on.”
The Lady Raiders (13-9) did just that, scoring the first six points of the second half to take the lead it would never relinquish and take down the Lady Bulldogs (12-10) 51-35 in the first round of the MPSSAA state playoffs. Eleanor Roosevelt will take on Charles H. Flowers High School in the MPSSAA 4A South Section II semifinals on Feb. 26.
Butler said he told his four captains to put the team on their backs in the second half, and they did exactly that.
Workman, Daja Claiborne, Taylor McCormick and Makayla Adams scored 49 of the Lady Raiders 51 points, including all 33 points of the team’s points in the second half.
A jumper from Adams tied the game to start the third quarter, and back-to-back layups from Workman gave Eleanor Roosevelt its first lead and then pushed the lead to four with 6:27 remaining in the third quarter.
Following a Bowie timeout, sophomore Rachel Reyes finished a jumper through contact and hit the ensuing free throw to trim the lead to one, but that was the closest Bowie would get for the rest of the night.
Adams hit a 3-pointer two possessions later, and the lead only grew from there.
Workman’s layup with under a minute remaining in the third quarter gave the Lady Raiders their first double-digit lead of the night, and the Bulldogs never got closer than nine points in the fourth quarter.
That was a stark contrast from the first half, where Eleanor Roosevelt struggled to find answers for Bowie’s 2-3 zone. The Lady Raiders struggled to take care of the ball, and when it did, missed shots and struggled to convert second-chance opportunities. According to McCormick, Eleanor Roosevelt was expecting Bowie to come out in a zone defense, but Bowie Head Coach Charles Alston said his team made an adjustment based on the team’s two previous matchups this season.
“We looked at the film, we went back we studied it, and we found a little thing we could tweak to cut off the dribble penetration,” Alston said. “Because that’s what killed us the first two games.”
The zone, along with the Lady Raiders turnover struggles, allowed Bowie to control the first half, scoring the first five points of the game and leading 13-9 after the opening frame. The Bulldogs got a spark from freshman Jenesis Massenburg, who scored 12 of Bowie’s 20 first-half points and a game-high 17 points.
“She’s going to be that one the next four years that everyone needs to watch out for,” Alston said.
The Bulldogs led by as much as eight in the first half, and held steady as Eleanor Roosevelt started to chip away near the end of the first quarter. The Lady Raiders tied the game on an 8-0 run that spanned the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter, but never took the lead due to costly turnovers.
“It’s pretty frustrating too because we tend to have turnovers at key moments in the game,” Adams said. “We tend to turn the ball over a lot when the other team is scoring, so that really doesn’t help our momentum.”
But the turnovers disappeared in the second half. Just minutes after the victory, it didn’t take Eleanor Roosevelt long to start focusing on its next opponent. Charles H. Flowers swept the season series with the Lady Raiders, beating them in their last two games before the start of the state playoffs.
“All we wanted was one more shot at Flowers,” Butler said.