UPPER MARLBORO – In their first game since splitting last season’s series, Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School girls basketball overcame a combative Bowie High School to earn a 67-61 overtime victory on Jan. 9.
Despite the game stretching into overtime, the Pumas leadership and defensive effort by their upperclassmen players were the deciding factors in coming away with the win, Head Coach Peter Snipes said. The goal is to use the result as motivation to continue their progress throughout the season.
“We got a lot of work to do,” Snipes said. “We’ve come a long way but we still got a lot of work to do. We have a lot of girls that moved up to varsity, and it’s a learning process.”
Wise received contributions from its three double-digit scorers: junior forward Gabrielle Williams (18 points), Caia Loving (13) and Kiersten Rose (10).
The game became a murky one with both teams combining for 64 fouls. In total, seven players fouled out and forced a sluggish pace to the game. Because of that, Snipes relied on his role players, who had minimal experience in the varsity level, to establish the game’s flow and keep the Pumas afloat.
The Bulldogs (5-6) battled to keep the game within reach, keeping the deficit within no more than nine points. Their scrappy defense forced a bevy of turnovers and allowed junior forward Jaidyn McCullough to collect loose balls and finish at the rim in transition for easy baskets throughout the contest. McCullough finished with 17 points for Bowie.
After giving up the lead, Wise led a furious rally late in the fourth quarter to push the game into overtime.
Bowie thought they sealed the win after junior wing Ahna Thomas powered through a foul and sunk a layup to increase the deficit to one point with a little over a minute remaining.
However, according to Bulldogs Head Coach Charles Alston, Thomas senior wing Jocelyn Johnson lost control of her emotions and was one of two players to draw technical fouls, giving Wise four free throws to shoot. The Pumas would score three of the four shots, giving themselves a two-point cushion late.
“At that point, we’re actually up,” Alston said. “And we get two technical fouls on both of our players. We got to learn how to keep our composure and learn how to know when we’re winning and losing.”
Bowie tied the game at 58-all, but Wise had enough time for one more possession. Williams had the chance to close out the game for Wise with a converted free throw, but she missed the attempt with eight seconds remaining, sending the game to overtime.
Despite surrendering five points in the overtime period, the Pumas finished the game off on a 7-0 run to earn the critical win. Although Wise was happy with the win, on the postgame conversation was how they could improve. The main takeaway from their moment of reflection was that they should have done better.
“If we weren’t rushing, we wouldn’t have gone into overtime,” Williams said. “The game would’ve been over, but just to slow down. It’s a lot we need to work on as a team.”
For Alston, it is back to the drawing board for Bowie as it was not able to find a solution to stop Wise’s shooters as well as senior guard Lauren Price. Her presence on defense frustrated Bulldog shooters while the Bulldogs finished the game missing 26 free throws, a real determent in their development.
“We came out thinking this was going to be a great game,” Thomas said. “Wise has a great team, and we came out thinking we had it. We didn’t come out with the type of effort that we have actually put one foot forward just to get past them because no one is going to hand us a hand.”
Thomas finished with a game-high 23 points but said it was not enough for the win.
“I didn’t come in clutch until the end of the game,” Thomas said. “And I feel like I disappointed my teammates in a way, but we fought, and it’s just unfortunate how the results ended.”