After getting off to fast starts, both the QO boys and girls basketball teams have lately found the opposition a little tougher. The boys suffered their first defeat last Friday night at Gaithersburg, 61-56, and are now 9-1, while the girls after a 3-0 start dropped games to traditional contenders Paint Branch, Clarksburg, and Wootton before rebounding last Friday at home to beat Gaithersburg, 55-44, and raise their record to 7-3.
“Our girls were resilient,” said QO coach Chris Campbell, describing both their ability to bounce back from a 10-point loss to Wootton two nights earlier and their withstanding a second-half surge by Gaithersburg to preserve the important in-division victory.
The Lady Cougars played a great first half, going on a 17-8 run in the first quarter, continuing their defensive pressure and offensive firepower in the second, and opening up a 19-point halftime lead, 36-17. Multitalented freshman Jordan Odom keyed the Cougars early with 8 first quarter points and several steals, then junior guard Taylor Wilson cashed in a couple of 3-pointers.
The second half was different, however. “We came out a little sluggish,” Campbell said. The girls missed several close-in shots and scored only 6 points in the third quarter, allowing Gaithersburg to narrow the lead to 42-30. Gaithersburg tightened its press in the fourth quarter, forcing the young Cougars to lose their patience and make mistakes, and suddenly it was 42-38.
But when they needed it most, the girls bounced back. “We were able to calm down and run our sets,” Campbell said, and a layup off a set play by Taylor Wilson and a Wilson three sparked a 9-2 run that got the lead back to 11 and sealed the victory.
Odom led QO with 16 points, but only 2 came in the second half as Gaithersburg keyed its defense on her. Wilson added 13, and freshman Taylor Addison contributed 10 points and 17 rebounds. Addison, the inside half of the Lady Cougars’ Fabulous Freshmen duo along with Odom, has been a dominant rebounder this season, recording two games of 20 rebounds and averaging 12.4 rebounds per game. Odom (15.8), Addison (9.1), and Wilson (6.2) are the team’s leading scorers, with junior Lainey Seiniger (5.3) also contributing key points.
Campbell is pleased with his team’s performance so far as they continue through a difficult stretch of their schedule. “We’ve lost three times and rebounded with a win each time,” he said, again praising their resilience.
The boys, meanwhile, are relying on a pair of seniors and a pair of sophomores for their scoring punch and have caught some attention with their 9-0 start.
Senior center Sam Ling has been leading the Cougars and can score both inside and outside. Athletic swingman and fellow senior Eli Maynard can score in bunches.
But the sophomore tandem of Johnny Fierstein and Matthew Kelly have been sparking QO and recently were the subject of a Gazette article. Fierstein led all scorers with 22 points in an important win against a tough and talented Clarksburg squad on Jan. 2, and Kelly has emerged as one of the top 3-point shooters in the county.
Against Gaithersburg, the Cougars played the Trojans even in the first half and were down one, 25-24, at halftime. But Gaithersburg, led by Anthony Tarke, one of the top players in the county, blew the game open in the third quarter and led by as many as 14 points in the second half. A late run by QO narrowed the final margin to 5.
Maynard led QO with 21 points while Fierstein had 13 and Kelly 8. Maynard and Fierstein each had two 3-pointers.
QO hosts a double-header this Friday night, Jan. 16 against Magruder with the girls tipping off at 5:15 p.m. and the boys following up at approximately 7 p.m.