It was a new game, in a new setting at American University’s Bender Arena, with much higher stakes (a berth in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship) than the typical regular season WCAC contest, but it was the same old script.
As it did on Jan. 24 and Feb. 1, Our Lady of Good Counsel High School’s girls’ basketball team hung with Paul VI, trading buckets for the first 20 or so minutes, even threatening to take a lead here and there. But then, as happened on those two previous encounters, the big run came, and once the Panthers got the momentum going, there was little the Falcons could do to stop it.
After Good Counsel senior Stacey Koutris hit a field goal to draw it to 35-33 midway through the third quarter, the Panthers strung together a 21-4 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters. Jonquanae Cole scored seven, Jasmine Whitney added six more, and WCAC Player of the Year Ariana Freeman tacked on four of her game-high 19 during the stretch to extend Paul VI’s lead to 56-37 in what eventually became a 62-41 rout of the Falcons.
“We played with them the first two games, were up six in the fourth quarter in the first one, down four in the second game and kind of the same thing here,” Good Counsel coach Tom Splaine said. “I think they were just in better condition than we were.”
Freshman point guard Lindsey Pulliam and junior forward Nicole Enabosi both agreed that fatigue has directly led to the late-game woes Good Counsel chronically suffers against Paul VI. The Panthers press for the majority of the game and, over the course of four quarters, that takes a toll both mentally and physically. Passes turned sloppy, which resulted in easy layups the other way for Paul VI, and the field goal percentage plummeted — Good Counsel went 12-of-49 on the game and 5-of-19 in the second half.
“They have a really good press,” said Enabosi, who led Good Counsel along with freshman Maya Riley with 11 points. “They are really in your face, it makes it tough.”
“I think we got a little tired,” said Pulliam, who scored all six of her points from the free throw line and has now made 28 consecutive from the stripe. “We start turning over the ball and that’s when they kind of got away.”
During the opening two minutes, it didn’t appear as if Paul VI would have to mount much of a late-game run to punch their ticket to the championship. Freeman scored eight points and teammates Jasmine Whitney and Lindsey Oblitey each hit a field goal to put the Panthers up 12-3 (on pace for nearly 200 points).
But the Falcons fought back, drawing fouls and getting to the line 16 times in the first half, 11 more trips than Paul VI, which helped atone for a 7-for-30 shooting performance from the field before the break. Though they never led, the Falcons tied the game at 21-21 and the game was played within two possessions for all but one possession of the second quarter and half of the third. Then, however, came the run Splaine dreaded, the one that had already been the crux of Good Counsel’s undoing twice this year, and the game was out of reach before the Falcons scored their first point of the fourth quarter nearly five minutes in.
“We knew that was the difference,” Splaine said. “We’ve watched a number of their games, we know the way they play and they’re tough. They have the best player in the league in Ariana Freeman and a really good supporting cast.”
Paul VI 62, Good Counsel 41
Paul VI (25-5, 17-1): 18 10 17 17 — 62
Good Counsel (16-13, 11-8): 12 14 11 4 — 41
Paul VI: Ariana Freeman 19, Jonquanae Cole 18, Lindsey Oblitey 9, Jasmine Whitney 8, Diamond Mickle 4, Raven James 2, Kayla Meador 2.
Good Counsel: Nicole Enabosi 11, Maya Riley 11, Stacey Koutris 7, Lindsey Pulliam 6, Sara Woods 5, Maya Mann 1.