After watching a 10-point advantage slowly evaporate over the course of the second half, Parkdale High School girls' basketball coach Lawrence Watson called a time out with about two minutes remaining in hopes that he could get his team to regroup.
“I was just telling them that we have to execute — that's No. 1,” Watson said. “We have to be in the proper positions. We have to catch the ball, turn, pivot and look for the open person, and we have to connect on our shots.”
The pep talk worked, as the Panthers responded with three solid possessions to earn a 35-32 victory against visting DuVal in a Prince George's County 4A League game Friday.
Guard Kareema Conteh led the way for Parkdale, scoring 12 points to go along with five steals and three assists. Conteh, a senior, scored eight after the break to help hold off the furious comeback attempt by the Tigers.
“We just have to be disciplined,” Conteh said. “We have to be more patient on offense, because they weren't doing much, so we just need to be more patient and take smarter shots. We hit some key free throws at the end to put away the game, but we shouldn't have let it get that close.”
The Panthers (9-10 overall, 8-6 PG 4A division) led 14-10 at halftime, and expanded that lead to 21-10 in the early minutes of the third quarter. Following a DuVal timeout with about four minutes remaining in the period the Tigers clawed their way back into the contest with a 10-2 run to end the frame. Six of those 10 points came directly from turnovers, as the zone press deployed by DuVal seemed to have the Parkdale offense flustered.
“We call that our Tiger press, and that has been a staple at DuVal for years,” DuVal coach Keith Devoe said. “We forced a lot of turnovers, but we just didn't convert all those turnovers into points.”
The Tigers (6-10, 5-8) cut the deficit to 31-30 late in the fourth quarter, but a basket from Conteh and a couple converted free throws by Samantha Spencer (10 points) and Valerie Ehimhen (19 rebounds, seven points) put the game away for the Panthers.
“We talk every day about the cerebral part of this game, the basketball IQ, and I think we lacked that towards the end,” Devoe said. “Parkdale did a good job, they went to a box-and-one [defense] on No. 23, [Destinee] McQueen, and we just didn't have an answer for that. We just needed somebody else to step up in that situation.”
McQueen led the scoring for DuVal with 11 points, while Ashley Okoroh added 9.
Parkdale has now won three games in a row, and six-of-eight, which Watson hopes will carry over into their remaining regular season contests.
“We are definitely gearing up,” he said. “We have a couple more home games — we have an away game on Tuesday at High Point, and then we come back for two straight home games — so we are looking to finish 6-0, or at least 5-1 down the stretch. We look to be in good shape.”
Parkdale 35, Duval 32
DuVal (6-10, 5-8) 5 5 10 12 — 32
Parkdale (9-10, 8-6) 11 3 9 12 —- 35
Parkdale: Kareema Conteh 12; Samntha Spencer 10; Valerie Ehimhen 7; Ijoema Ajemba 3; Nailah Jones 3.
DuVal: Destinee McQueen 11, Ashley Okoroh 9; Crystal Nwenza 4; Antionette Jones 3; Milan Williams 3; Blessing Modozie 2.