Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

Good Counsel girls climb WCAC hoops standings

Good Counsel 64, McNamara 48

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Knowing McNamara would likely sag its defense around his top player, Shanel Harrison, Good Counsel girls basketball coach Tom Splaine told defensive stalwarts Sarian Snyder and Symone Lyles to become more offensive.

Seeing Splaine’s prediction come true and her opponent playing several feet away from her, Snyder took to her new role the way a child does to presents on Christmas morning, ripping open her offensive repertoire for a game-high 24 points en route to a 64-48 win over visiting McNamara in a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference match-up Friday night in Olney.

‘‘I’ve been working hard in practice and I just got on tonight,” Snyder said. ‘‘After the first shot, I got my confidence up and got on a roll. [The sagging defense] only made me want to shoot more because they didn’t think that I could. It only boosted my confidence. `All right, I’ll show you I can do it.’”

Snyder, starting in the place of 3-pointer specialist Kayla Loughner, who was sidelined by illness, scored nine of her team’s 22 first-half points for a three-point halftime lead, while Harrison was limited to a 3-point basket.

Snyder, a high-energy defender⁄rebounder, rattled off 13 more points in the third quarter to stake the Falcons to a 37-27 lead through 24 minutes of play and McNamara got no closer than six points the rest of the way.

She made all eight of her free throws and scored from the field on the break, on drives and on jumpers from just inside the 3-point line. Harrison (9 rebounds) then took over with 11 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter.

‘‘The coach told us they were looking to guard me, mostly me, so he said when Symone and Sarian get open, they’re going to shoot the ball and me and Katie Sheahin were to come in and rebound the ball,” Harrison said. ‘‘She shot it and knocked it down. If she did miss, we boxed out and got the rebound, put it back up, got fouled and made our free throws.”

The Falcons (10-2, 4-1 WCAC) moved into sole possession of second place in the WCAC with the win, keeping them a game behind frontrunner and defending champion Holy Cross, which defeated Good Counsel, 46-40, last month.

The Mustangs slipped to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the league.

‘‘It’s a great win for us, especially after the loss to Holy Cross in mid-December,” said Splaine, whose team rallied from nine points down to defeat host St. John’s, 46-36, last Wednesday. ‘‘The win over St. John’s the other night was key coming into tonight, especially being down nine points in the third quarter.”

The Mustangs led, 13-11, after one quarter but a late pick-and-roll from Kyleen Armstrong to Lawryn Fowler and a 3-point play by Snyder gave the Falcons the lead for good late in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, Snyder scored seven straight points on a 3-point play, a driving layup and a fast-break layup from Harrison to spark a 9-0 run. Snyder then scored Good Counsel’s final six points of the quarter on three jump shots for the 10-point lead.

The Falcons increased their lead to as much as 12 points, 42-30, in the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter but the Mustangs climbed back to within six points, 47-41, with about four minutes to go through their harassing full-court press that saw Alexis Canady (15 points) turn steals into points and a 3-pointer by Ebony Edwards.

Good Counsel closed out the game by making 17 of 18 free throws in the final 4 minutes, 35 seconds. Harrison, after missing two free throws early on, made all eight of her charity shots in that stretch.

‘‘I was angry at myself but I couldn’t let it get to my head too much because when I do that I lose composure,” Harrison said. ‘‘So I just took a deep breath and said I’ll get it the next time and knock down the next ones.”

Falcon boys on fast track

When Mike Hibbs took over the Good Counsel boys basketball team three seasons ago, he hoped to turn the once-proud program around by year No. 5. That timetable appears to be on a much faster track.

Since opening the season with a tough loss to undefeated Gonzaga (14-0), the Falcons, through Sunday, had won 12 of 13 games — the only loss came Friday night against McNamara (10-4).

In between, Good Counsel won 12 straight games, including three consecutive tournaments, the latest being at the Merv Lopes Tournament in Hawaii. It also defeated DeMatha, 52-47, prior to Christmas and upended St. John’s, 55-45, last Wednesday to run its record to 12-2 overall and 2-2 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

‘‘If anybody told me we’d be 12-2 after 14 games, I definitely would have said they needed to go see a psychologist because of our youth,” Hibbs said. ‘‘I didn’t know how we were going to play.”

At the Merv Lopes Tournament, the Falcons recorded wins against Kahuka, Thousand Oaks (Calif.), Kalaneo and Punahou, respectively, behind the play of senior forward Jordan Clarke and junior guard Recardo Gaddy. Clarke won Most Valuable Player honors for the third straight tournament, while Gaddy made the all-tournament team.

Clarke came up big again in the team’s 10-point win over St. John’s, producing 18 points and 20 rebounds Gaddy and sophomore point guard Louis Young added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Illness dampened Clarke’s production in the loss to McNamara as he managed just 12 points and five rebounds. That lack of output plus a rough second quarter — the Mustangs outscored Good Counsel, 21-8 — proved to be too much for the Falcons, who did climb within two points late in the game.

‘‘Jordan usually gives us 24 [points] and 15 [rebounds] each game,” Hibbs said. ‘‘That hurt us.”

Good Counsel, which was led by sophomore guard Ben Hazel’s 18 points in the loss, was to play three games this week, including Carroll (7-4, 3-2 WCAC) Saturday at noon.