Laurel High School’s girls basketball team learned its lesson: no lead is safe against Suitland.
Two weeks after coughing up a 20-point fourth-quarter lead against their County 4A League foe, the Spartans (14-10) held on for a 71-62 victory Monday against the Rams (13-10) in the quarterfinal round of the 4A South Region playoffs.
Laurel went on a 14-0 run to start the fourth quarter, turning a six-point deficit into a healthy lead. Suitland called a timeout with 4 minutes remaining and went into a press, but this time Laurel was prepared.
“When they tried to press us the last time, we were just throwing the ball away, ridiculously. So we worked on our regular press break and we attacked them,” Laurel coach Thomas Harrison said.
Following the timeout Laurel’s Keyonna Williams broke the trap and drew a foul. She converted both her free-throw attempts and extended the Spartans’ lead to 10.
“We attacked, we attacked, and started making layups. And foul shots, they were key at the end of the game,” Harrison said.
The Rams hung around. Freshman Jade Young’s bucket brought Suitland within six points. But on the next possession, senior Shayla Jenkins connected on a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, sealing the victory for the Laurel.
“We knew we were going to see them again in the playoffs, and we knew we weren’t going to let it happen again,” said Jenkins, who scored 13 points.
Senior Autumn Beynum led the Spartans with 24 points.
“This could have been our last game and I wasn’t ready to leave yet,” Beynum said.
Laurel led by double-digits early. The game turned after Megan Brown, Laurel’s leading scorer, got into foul trouble and the Rams outscored the Spartans 26-9 in the second quarter.
“But, we kept it close and in the second half, I knew we were going to do it,” Harrison said.
Laurel’s Lisa Jing scored 13 second-half points and finished with 16. Brown added 11, including nine in the second half.
Suitland center Taleah Williams dominated the offensive glass and tallied a game-high 27 points. The junior scored more than half her buckets off put-back layups.
“She had a good game tonight, unfortunately other players around her didn’t step and take care of the responsibility,” Suitland’s fourth-year coach Keith Lynch said.
Senior Renee Kydd had 17 points in her final game with the Rams. She caught fire in the second quarter, making three 3-pointers in the frame. But she was limited in the second half after the Spartans went with a box-and-one defense.
Laurel advances to face top-seed Eleanor Roosevelt in region semifinals. The Raiders beat the Rams handily in the two previous meetings and are undefeated in conference play.
“They’re very good and they’re big. So not only do we have to play good defense, but we got to hit the boards. Last time we played them, every time they shot they got a rebound and scored,” Harrison said.
Laurel 71, Suitland 62
Laurel (14-10) 16 9 19 27 — 71
Suitland (13-10) 5 25 20 12 — 62
Laurel: Autumn Beynum 24; Lisa Jing 16; Shayla Jenkins 13; Megan Brown 11; Keyonna Williams 5; Aldijah Koeiman 2.
Suitland — Taleah Williams 27; Renee Kydd 17; Tatyana Furr 9; Brianna Knight 3; Tiara Rorie 2; Charnise Tyler 2; Jade Young 2.