BOWIE – Standing 6-foot-2, junior Sydnei Harmon towers over the majority of her competition with ease as she collects rebounds and scores putback shots in the paint. While her teammates are perfectly capable of scoring on their own, the Charles H. Flowers High School girls basketball team sees Harmon as a special part of their growing arsenal of weapons.
On Jan. 17, as the Jaguars played Bowie High School, the road team look to Harmon for stability. As her teammates missed shots, she converted points right away, scoring 10 of her 14 points in the first quarter alone while sparking a 17-7 run.
“I felt like I should have gotten more,” Harmon said. “I missed too many shots, and that was not too much out of the normal as a lot of our plays are centered to the post, even though our guards are good and can drive and score. It still feels good (to score) and contribute for the victory.”
“Sydnei Harmon has been an excellent addition to our program,” Head Coach Roderick Hairston said. “She gives us that inside presence that we were looking for…she has handled a lot of the scoring for us in the interior, but I am excited about the upside. She is starting to hit her groove.”
Harmon was one of three players that scored in the double digits as Flowers thoroughly dominated their 4A divisional opponents with ease. Shooting guard Taniyah Hogg scored a game-high 20 points as the Jaguars earned a convincing 67-28 victory over Bowie.
With the win, Flowers (10-1) continue their undefeated streak against county opponents intact, defeating their last nine this year. Heading into the game against Bowie, Hairston said he was able to scout Bowie and prepare his squad for their fearless offense.
“They have an explosive offense,” Hairston said. “We wanted to trap as often as we could trap without fouling. We wanted to guard their perimeter and make them pass the ball over our zone. And that was the plan: keep them from having open looks.”
Flowers jumped out for an early 10-0 lead as Hogg and team captain Kaniyah Harris helping jumpstart the offense. Meanwhile, on defense, the Jaguars double-teamed juniors Jaidyn McCullough and Ahna Thomas throughout the game, limiting their effectiveness and their shot selection opportunities.
The rest of the opening quarter’s success was credited to Harmon’s work in the post as she got open for shots in the paint and collected rebounds over the smaller Bulldog players.
Bowie (6-7) looked poised to get the game closer as they scored four straight points and collected three steals before halftime. Thomas was even able to block a Flowers shot, leading to a fast break layup. However, the Lady Bulldogs could not score more than 11 points while Flowers found its offensive touch late, scoring five unanswered points to increase their growing advantage to 27 points.
The Lady Bulldogs came out of the halftime without Thomas and McCullough, their most explosive threats on offense, as Head Coach Charles Alston put in many of their role players. Flowers took advantage by limiting open space and creating turnovers for fast break points.
Hogg stomped the hearts of the home crowd with two consecutive 3-pointers while Harris followed with a behind the arc shot of her own. Flowers finished the period shutting out Bowie and not allowing them to score a basket as they entered the fourth quarter with a 60-18 lead.
“We worked hard and came in with the mentality that we were going to win,” Hogg said. “…. We came out and show them who we are as a team and add more to our win (total).”
McCullough and Thomas combined for 17 of Bowie’s final 28 points, as they provided the majority of the offensive opportunities in the fourth quarter against Flowers’ bench players. Meanwhile, Hairston was impressed at how his role players entered the game and found ways to be involved in increasing their lead.
Despite their large margin of victory, Flowers sees itself as the best team in Maryland, and their offense is not where they believe it needs to be to defend their state championship.
However, if more players continue to contribute, like Hogg and Harmon did, alongside Harris, Hairston said he believes that they will be more prepared to head back to another state final.
“The only thing we have to work on more is our layups and getting the ball down the court more,” Hogg said. “Sometimes, we overthink, and we miss our layups, and we can be a better offensive team than just a defensive team.”