Victories Hard to Come by for Cougar Hoopsters

Photo | Phil Fabrizio The Lady Cougars’ Brittany Beckwith is fourth leading scorer among Montgomery County girls this season.

Photo | Phil Fabrizio
The Lady Cougars’ Brittany Beckwith is fourth leading scorer among Montgomery County girls this season.

So far, the new year hasn’t brought much success for the Quince Orchard basketball teams. The boys, who finished 2013 with a record of 3-4, are now 4-7. The girls, who ended 2013 with four straight losses, have lost their first four in 2014.

Last Friday at Magruder, the QO boys dropped a 46-40 contest to the always tough Colonels. The Cougars “really competed very well,” said Head Coach Paul Foringer. Magruder “had a noticeable size advantage, but we kept fighting.”

The game was tied at 26 at halftime and stayed close in the third quarter, but QO “only scored four points in the fourth quarter due to some really good defense by Magruder,” Foringer said. “We played very good defense as well, missed a few shots that we normally make,” and that was the difference.

Jake Seiniger was the only Cougar in double figures with 10, including two three-pointers. QO’s young point guards combined for 13 as sophomore Damon Daniel had 7 and freshman Johnny Fierstein hit two three-pointers for 6.

Earlier in the week, the Cougars gave an undefeated Gaithersburg squad all they could handle before a spirited crowd at the Cougar Den, before falling 53-49. The Cougars’ ball-hawking defense, led by Andrew Fink and Perry Konecke, confounded the taller, faster and more talented Trojans, and freshman Kalil Sewell, a defensive lineman on the QO football squad, came off the bench to battle inside. But Gaithersburg’s inside-outside combination of Anthony Tarke and Deion Etheridge was too tough for QO to defend.

The seesaw contest seemed to be settled midway through the fourth quarter when Gaithersburg scored three lightning quick baskets in less than a minute to open a 49-43 lead with 4:13 left. QO had their chances to come back, but were done in by the usual suspects—a missed layup and four missed free throws. They kept scrapping, however, and with just over a minute left closed to 51-49 on a Seiniger drive after Tarke missed a dunk at the other end.

The Cougars, who had fouls to give, then fouled Gaithersburg point guard Aaron King three times before he could go to the line. King, a transfer from QO, ignored the taunts of his former schoolmates in the student section and sank both free throws for the final 53-49 margin.

“That’s a pretty skilled basketball team,” Foringer said of Gaithersburg after the game. “To be as close as we were at the end with a chance to actually win the game, that’s a nice feeling. But, it’s a loss. … We can always pat ourselves on the back and say we played hard, but we’re supposed to play hard every time we come out.”

Seiniger, the Cougars’ top scorer, had 16 points for QO, and Fink—the “heart and soul of our team,” Foringer said—added 11. Tarke led all scorers with 18 while Etheridge had 14, including four three-pointers.

The Quince Orchard girls may have a record of 1-10, but that hasn’t kept them from competing. Against a 7-4 Magruder team at the Cougar Den on Friday, the Lady Cougars kept fighting and were within five points in the final minute, but they missed free throws at the end while the Lady Colonels made theirs to win 55-45.

“They fight,” Coach Ken Buffum said of his team. “We’re trying a bunch of different things, but it’s just not there.”

QO’s center, Brittany Beckwith, scored 16 second half points to keep her team close. Against Magruder’s tall front line, she battled for rebounds at both ends of the floor and scored on putbacks and soft bank shots around the basket. She finished with 19 points as foul trouble limited her playing time in the first half. Babette Sanmartin, the other half of QO’s primary scoring duo, added 15.

Notwithstanding the losses, it was an impressive week for Beckwith, who scored 22 points in a 61-52 defeat to Wootton and 24 in a 56-43 loss at Gaithersburg. She is the fourth leading scorer in Montgomery County, averaging 18 points per game.

Asked how he keeps his team’s morale up, Buffum said, “every team makes the playoffs, so we have to just tell them we got to be playing our best basketball when the playoff games start. It’s just a matter of cutting down the dumb mistakes and keep chipping away.”