For at least one more game, fans of the Eleanor Roosevelt High School girls basketball team will be able to chant, “We’re undefeated. We’re undefeated,” as they exit the building with the Raiders.
On Tuesday, the team held on for a 45-40 home victory against Charles H. Flowers.
Senior guard Daria Simmons played a huge part in moving the Raiders to 18-0 overall and 15-0 in the 4A League by leading all scorers with 17 points, including nine in the fourth quarter. The biggest four of those points came in the closing seconds as she made a driving scoop layup and was fouled to give Roosevelt a 43-40 lead with 15.4 seconds left. She then converted two free throws with 11 seconds remaining for the final five-point advantage.
“I was just trying to take it to the basket strong,” said Simmons, who drove past Flowers guard Kyah Proctor and then scooped in the layup while drawing contact. She then missed the free throw attempt. “I just had to take it strong to the basket and finish and that’s what I did.
“Jasmin [Faulkner] wasn’t feeling too good, so someone had to pick it up. We had to pick it up for her. We had to come together and pull it out.”
Faulkner had 19 points in Roosevelt’s 57-52 win against Flowers Jan. 8, but she was limited to eight points Tuesday. Besides Simmons, the Raiders received 14 points from freshman Kaila Charles and 12 rebounds from Tolu Omokore. Charles scored 10 of her points in the first half to help provide Roosevelt with leads of 16-10 after one quarter and 24-20 at the half.
“We were practicing hard. We were watching clips on the last game, trying to perfect our game and I think we did really good,” said Charles, who helped limit Proctor to seven points under her average of 19 points per game through the team’s box-and-one defense that also saw Alannah Baiyina shadowing the Flowers guard. “We pulled away with our defense, especially at the end. We were pressing. Defense wins games, not offense.”
Charles helped force the turnover of the game with 13 seconds remaining as her pressure in the backcourt led to Flowers stepping out of bounds. It also led to Simmons’ clinching free throws.
After knocking down both free throws, Simmons blocked a 3-point attempt by Proctor in the closing seconds and the ball was recovered by Roosevelt’s Sandra Okafor to essentially end the game.
“I think they were more aggressive then we were,” said Flowers forward De’Janae Boykin, who produced 12 points and 13 rebounds in the loss. “They wanted it more. It means nothing [though]; we still have a chance to win a state championship.”
Flowers did not make Roosevelt’s 18th straight win an easy one. It used an 11-4 run in the fourth quarter to trim a 37-29 deficit to 41-40 with around two minutes left in the game. Boykin started the rally with rebound stickback and Proctor scored five straight points on a 3-pointer and two free throws before Simmons, who scored her team’s final six points, worked her magic in the lane.
Eleanor Roosevelt 45, Charles H. Flowers 40
Charles H. Flowers 10 10 9 11 — 40
Eleanor Roosevelt 16 8 8 13 — 45
Charles H. Flowers (14-4, 12-3): Nicole Derrickson 6, De’Janae Boykin 12, Kyah Proctor 12, Diamond Douglas 3, Bianca Brown 1, Kamani Brown 6.
Eleanor Roosevelt (18-0, 15-0): Kaila Charles 14, Tolu Omokore 4, Jazmin Faulkner 8, Daria Simmons 17, Alannah Baiyina 2.