Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

Trojan girls at a loss

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The Gaithersburg girls basketball team lost for the fourth time in five games Friday. But after the previous three defeats had come by a combined six points, including one in overtime, this one was decisive — a 70-47 thrashing by Quince Orchard.

‘‘We didn’t come to play in the second half; we were winning, 29-27 at halftime,” Gaithersburg coach Adrian McDaniel said. ‘‘We’re not gelling together. Everybody keeps telling me my team’s young, but after 10 games, they’ve gotta start playing together.”

McDaniel’s biggest disappointment Friday is that Quince Orchard junior guard Veronica Kresse scored 17 points in the third quarter alone, on her way to 33 for the game.

In the wake of the loss, Gaithersburg (4-5 record) will regroup. McDaniel said he plans to insert freshman phenom Kara Marshall — the team’s leading scorer Friday with 14 points — into the starting lineup, after bringing her off the bench in the first nine games. Other rotation shake-ups could be ahead, as McDaniel endeavors to find the right chemistry.

The Trojans are also looking for some foul shooting, for the second-straight year. According to McDaniel, in the Trojans’ four losses before Friday, they missed a combined 68 free throws, an average of 17 per defeat, when their average loss was by fewer than four points.

‘‘One thing I can say for the girls is that they do have fight,” McDaniel said. ‘‘We’ve won every fourth quarter except [Friday]; we’re fighting back from behind. But I guess we’re doing so much fighting, we’re not focusing when we get mentally tired, and that means we’re missing free throws.”

The continued absence of junior forward Jackie Tardif hasn’t helped, either. Tardif missed the beginning of the season with an injury, but McDaniel had expected her back by now; instead, it looks like she won’t be back until the playoffs.

Boys are consistently inconsistent

The Gaithersburg boys basketball team continued its one-and-only trend in Friday’s 58-53 loss to Quince Orchard. Once again, the Trojans put in a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance.

‘‘We’re just a little inconsistent,” head coach Kevin Parrish said. ‘‘Right before Christmas, we beat Wootton by 15, and I was really pleased with that game, because Wootton’s very good. Then two days later, we lost by 29 to Whitman.”

The Trojans (3-6) are 3-3 after losing their first three games of the season, including a split of holiday-tournament games. Friday, both Jekyll and Hyde showed up — they were down by 11 points at halftime before coming all the way back to within two points with the ball in the fourth quarter, but the deficit proved too much to overcome.

The killer blow was actually a halfcourt 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer. Quince Orchard rebounded a missed Gaithersburg free throw with two seconds left and banked home the desperation heave, which Parrish didn’t think got off before the buzzer.

‘‘When we’re down three with 30 seconds left, we’re all thinking about that shot,” Parrish said. ‘‘But it was a typical QO game, it went down to the wire, and the bottom line is, we scored 17 points in the first half.”

Inconsistent scoring has plagued Gaithersburg this year, not surprising from a team that returned just one player with significant varsity experience form last year. The Trojans have scored in the 40s or less five times, including in two of their three wins.

After Tuesday’s home game against Northwest, which finished too late for this edition, the Trojans hit the road on consecutive Fridays to face first Walter Johnson, then Churchill.

‘‘There are no teams we can’t play with,” Parrish said. ‘‘But it’s like with the QO game — it was nice to come back, nice to be competitive, but that was a game at home that we needed to win.”