Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Bowie’s slowdown game can’t stop Raiders

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Even with his team holding a tepid advantage in the late stages of the first half against three-time defending Class 4A state champion Eleanor Roosevelt, Bowie High School girls’ basketball coach Michael Hines still paced back and forth in front of his bench.

The Bulldogs led through most of the first half Friday evening at Bowie High, and even took a 17-14 lead into the locker room at the intermission. But Roosevelt rebounded from the halftime deficit with a strong third quarter en route to a 39-28 victory that had many of the Bowie faithful pondering the home team’s strategy.

Hines had instructed his guards to bring the ball up the floor slowly and wait for the Raiders’ guards to attempt to trap them in the backcourt before charging to the basket. On several occasions, the tactic worked as Bowie guard Micha Broadnax (eight points) avoided the traps and fed the ball to open teammates Robyn Keke (four points), Jontae McCoy (eight points) and Amara Mboronwu.

But more often than not, Bowie committed costly turnovers or missed layups or free throws. The Bulldogs were 6 of 15 from the line, and what could have been a modest halftime lead was rather minute. Since there is no 10-second rule to get the ball across half court, Broadnax often waited until there were only 10 seconds on the shot clock before darting across the mid-court stripe or looking for an open player.

‘‘What we were doing in the first half worked,” Hines said. ‘‘But what happened was the girls didn’t convert on the easy baskets or they missed free throws. We did not do a good job of shooting from the line. We missed over half of our foul shots. The year before I started, Roosevelt beat us 90-20. Then my first year, they beat us by 35 and I told the girls then that we cut the margin in half. We cut it down again [on Friday].”

Roosevelt coach Rod Hairston recalled that the Bulldogs attempted a similar tactic last winter in two losses to the Raiders. After having his players move forward in the first half, Hairston instructed them to back off in the second half. With his players no longer at risk of being trapped in the frontcourt or in danger of being burned by deep outlet passes, Hairston could sense that his team had gained control in the third period.

‘‘When I saw them do that again, I got the impression they really weren’t trying to win the game,” said Hairston. ‘‘It looked to me like they were just trying to keep the game close, which they did for a while. But I didn’t think they were going out to try and win the game. By the fourth quarter, I could see that they were changing their initial game plan.”

Bowie also was hindered by its inability to secure defensive rebounds. Part of that was due to the Bulldogs’ tentativeness on the boards and Roosevelt’s determination. Another part stemmed from the absence of sophomore forward Jasmine Macintosh, who was dismissed from the team for what Hines would only describe as ‘‘off-court issues.”

‘‘They killed us on rebounding,” Hines said. ‘‘They might have had twice as many rebounds as we did. That’s certainly something that we’re going to have to address. We also have a couple of our big girls playing hurt right now. Robyn [Keke] is still nursing a sore ankle. She’s reaching a lot, which is probably why she fouled out. She’s not setting her feet and getting good position.”

After a slow start, Roosevelt senior Brooke Wilson (13 points) and junior Olivia Applewhite (13 points) both increased their production in the second half. Wilson, who has committed to George Washington University and played the game in front of two of her future coaches, connected on a pair of 3-point field goals in the third quarter. Applewhite did most of her damage at the line, converting on 9 of 10 free throws.

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