The basketball season ended quickly for the Quince Orchard boys’ and girls’ teams this year, as both squads suffered disappointing defeats in their opening playoff contests.
The boys lost, 50-42, to Wootton in the first round of the playoffs and finished their season with an 11-11 record, while the girls dropped a heartbreaker, 46-44, to Richard Montgomery (RM), in the playoffs’ second round after earning a first-round bye.
The girls’ loss was especially disheartening, as they had beaten RM by 32 points in their regular season meeting. Indeed, after ending the regular season winning 10 of their last 11 games and securing the second seed in their section, the girls seemed poised for a long playoff run.
“The little things killed us,” lamented coach Bobby Bishop about a game in which the Lady Cougars uncharacteristically missed makeable shots, committed unforced errors, and cost themselves numerous opportunities to take the lead.
The game started well for QO as they opened a 10-point lead midway through the first quarter and were ahead 18-10 after one period. But they went cold in the second stanza, scoring only seven points, and nursed a 25-22 lead at halftime.
That didn’t last long, however, as RM scored 11 unanswered points at the start of the second half, tying the score one minute in and opening a 33-25 lead at the five-minute mark. Back-to-back three pointers by QO senior Destini Kelley followed by sophomore Anaya Badmus’ trey broke the streak and revived the Lady Cougars. They finished the third period down 37-36.
But the fourth period was maddening. RM led, 43-42, with 4:24 left, and for the next four minutes, QO’s frantic defense held the Rockets scoreless. But the Cougars couldn’t capitalize. They turned the ball over or missed layups on three consecutive trips, then when RM increased its lead to 44-42, QO missed two lay-ups that agonizingly spun in and out.
RM handed QO one final chance, missing two free throws with 24.2 seconds left. But QO couldn’t score on its next possession, was forced to foul, and this time RM converted to seal the win. A basket by QO junior Makayla Wright at the buzzer was too little, too late.
“You just need to be smarter in the fourth,” said Bishop. “We rush ourselves, had easy buckets that we need to make,” but just couldn’t convert.
“But overall, (I’m) very proud of my team,” said Bishop of the girls, who finished the season at 15-8. “We had our ups and downs, but I feel it was a great season, and we have a lot to build on for the future.”
QO will return three starters and a couple of key reserves next year, and their junior varsity team finished the season undefeated.
Kelley led the Lady Cougars with 14 points, while Badmus had 11.
For the boys, the lid was on the basket all night against Wootton, a team they had beaten twice during the season in close contests. They shot only 23 percent from the field for the game, and a woeful 19 percent in the first half. Their shooting malaise infected their free throws, too, as they made only 11-21 from the line with several critical misses in the fourth quarter.
Coach Paul Foringer attributed the team’s performance in large part to its youth and inexperience, pointing out that the team started three sophomores who seemed uncomfortable in their first high school playoff game.
The Cougars looked supercharged in the opening minutes against Wootton, making steals and forcing the tempo—but maybe too fast for their own good. They’d make a steal but miss a layup or force a pass into traffic. Wootton took advantage to grab a 16-9 lead after the first quarter.
“They’re just not experienced enough to understand how to rein it in and get under control,” said Foringer, who several times pleaded with players to slow down.
The Cougars tightened their defense in the second period, holding the Patriots scoreless for more than five minutes.
But QO could only manage three points during that time, and went into halftime down 23-17 after a bucket at the buzzer by junior Noah Adnan.
“The defense wasn’t that bad actually,” said Foringer. “But offensively we were godawful.”
QO seemed to right itself at the start of the second half as they scored seven straight points to take a 24-23 lead on a three by
senior Cameron Garrett. But Wootton quickly regained the advantage, and QO again went cold. The third period ended with the Patriots up 34-29.
Another QO run tied the score at 34 on a layup by Adnan with just over six minutes left. But again, Wootton bounced back, and again QO missed numerous opportunities, including three consecutive free throws that could have tied or given QO the lead.
Adnan tied the game on a long three as the shot clock expired at 2:12. But Wootton again responded, this time with a three of their own, and that would be it for the Cougars as Wootton pulled away for the eight-point win.
The game was a microcosm of the boys’ season. They enjoyed upset wins over Magruder and Northwest that “gave me an idea of how good we might be able to be,” Foringer said. But then they had surprising losses to Einstein and Watkins Mill.
“This team all year has been up and down,” said Foringer.
Adnan led QO in the final game with 10 points, while Garrett and sophomore Andy Wexler, the team’s leading scorer, each had 9.