Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Gladiators’ boys, girls fight to right their ships

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Less than a month remains in both the Glenelg High boys and girls respective basketball seasons.

As each hovers around .500, both Gladiators outfits know the stretch run before the playoffs is the time to start playing their best basketball.

The past month has seen Glenelg’s boys rally from a 1-5 start to, as of Tuesday, 7-8 overall and 6-5 in the Howard County League.

‘‘We realize that yes we have had some recent success over the past month, but to be in the elite class of the county we have to compete better and win the games against the elite teams,” head coach Jeremy Snyder said. ‘‘And we have yet to do that. This stretch of games coming up are against teams with winning records that beat us in the beginning of the season. We have to return the favor and beat some of these teams to be considered amongst them.”

On Jan. 11, Glenelg’s boys team evened its record at 6-6 with a 66-48 win over Hammond. Following a 12-day layoff, the Gladiators fell up and coming power Marriotts Ridge 64-52, but bounced back to knock off Wilde Lake 39-31 two days later. Senior forward Bruce Richardson had 19 points against the Mustangs and recorded his first double double of the campaign with 18 points and 11 rebounds against the Wildecats. Steve Visnic scored 10 points during the win.

Monday found Glenelg hosting Jefferson, the 10th-ranked team in West Virginia. Close for three and a half quarters, Jefferson eventually pulled away in the fourth to cap off a 61-49 win. Richardson had 23 points in a losing cause.

‘‘We played very well but gave the ball away down the stretch and gave up too many offensive rebounds,” head coach Jeremy Snyder said. ‘‘We were down six points most of the fourth quarter and they pulled away in the last three minutes.”

Defense has been imperative to the turnaround. The Gladiators are running both their man-to-man and zone schemes with success. Glenelg forced 25 turnovers against Wilde Lake.

‘‘We have been playing great man to man defense that carries over those same man to man principles in our zones,” Snyder said. ‘‘The help side in our defense has been tremendous which has limited teams to less shots. I also think mixing up our defenses has confused teams which has caused turnovers that we have capitalized on.”

Glenelg girls work on mental aspects

On Dec. 17 Glenelg High’s girls basketball coach Don Beall suffered what he considers one of the worst defeats of his career. The 42-36 loss at intra-county rival Long Reach was far from a blowout, but left a lasting impression on his and the team’s psyche.

Since then things have started looking up, as the young Gladiators are beginning to play their best ball of the season at exactly the right time.

‘‘I think the young girls are starting to play pretty good,” Beall said.

Graduation hit Glenelg hard. Only two players, captains Katie Biggs and Brianna Allen return from last year’s team that fell to Atholton in the Class 2A West Region finals. The Gladiators third captain Rachelle Leaf is also back but she missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

It’s taking time for the Gladiators’ offense to gel and find a rhythm. With Biggs’ approximately 15 points per contest leading the way, Glenelg’s attack has begun to click since returning from a nearly two-week hiatus with a 44-28 victory at Marriotts Ridge on Jan. 23. Last weekend they fell to 6-8 with setbacks against Wilde Lake (47-45) and non-league foe Garrison Forrest (47-38). However, like it’s known for doing inexperience equals turnovers.

‘‘As far as categories, shooting percentage is going up the last few games probably by 10 percent in two-[point attempts] and about eight percent in three-point shots. We’re starting to do a lot of things good. The only big is turnovers. If we can fix that we can compete with anyone in Howard County.”

The postseason is rapidly approaching. However so is a shot at redemption. In exactly a week, Glenelg welcomes Long Reach.

‘‘I can’t wait to play them,” Beall said.