Another heartbreaker for the Lady Cougars, who lost with one second left on a pair of free throws by Clarksburg’s leading scorer, Anna Hackett. The last of her 34 points fell in and left the Cougars short again at 66-65 after a fine team effort led by senior Leah Dagen (17 points) and freshmen Babette Sanmartin and Juanita Craig.
Craig was the second-leading scorer with 11 and leading rebounder with six. Sanmartin had only two points but many steals at crucial moments and three big rebounds to keep the Cougars in the game. “I know as a freshman, every time I get into a game I have to give it my all as much as I can,” said Sanmartin.
“The key was trying to shut down [Hackett], but she’s a good, quick little player,” said Coach Colleen Kelly. “We got tired at the end on defense. The freshmen have been improving a lot. We’ve seen it in practice and games. They’ll get more time, clearly.”
In a rematch of the Lady Cougars’ first game of the Sugarloaf holiday tournament, the Cougars lost again to the Poolesville Falcons, 49-42. In the first matchup the ladies had to fight their way back into the game; this time the Cougars were in the game from the start. Cougar Danielle Witherspoon led all scorers with 17. Dagen, the only other double-digit scorer, had a total of 10 points. The Cougars did have others score, but they often face the problem of having only one or two players producing the most points for the team.
“I knew the game plan was going to be different for them, so I knew I had to change our game plan,” said Kelly. This helped control some of the Falcons but failed to stop their 3s. They made eight to the Cougars’ two. The new game plan helped force twice as many turnovers than in the first matchup between the two schools and gave the Cougars an advantage in fast break points.
The Cougars were happy to have senior Mimi Niktash back in the lineup. Her return also helped to challenge the Falcons’ forwards and centers. Niktash only played two quarters but made her presence felt on the boards.
The Lady Cougars couldn’t overcome balanced scoring by Damascus in their next game and lost, 53-42, to go to 3-7 on the year. Witherspoon led all scorers with 15, and Craig had eight.
Against Watkins Mill, the Cougars prevailed despite an outstanding performance by the Wolverines’ Jasmine McRoy, who had 19 points including four 3s to go along with seven rebounds. Witherspoon led the Lady Cougars with her best game of the season, scoring 16, getting eight rebounds and interrupting many Watkins Mill plays.
Explaining the difference between this and recent games when the Cougars choked down the stretch, Witherspoon said, “We haven’t been having a lot of fun. Tonight we just went out and played. That’s what we like to do.”
Sanmartin continued her improved play. In one sequence she stole a pass, blocked a shot, made a field goal and got fouled on another attempt. With limited time, she got six rebounds. Morgan Turner made sure the Cougars got off to a fast start by gunning nine of her 11 points on three 3s in the first quarter.
Niktash, still working to get in shape, tweaked her ACL going for a rebound, but Kelly and trainer Dena Rapaport said it was more frightening than serious. “Tweaking it feels exactly like when she tore it,” said Rapaport, “so she was worried that it happened again.” Niktash was expected to heal more during the layoff for winter exams.