By Jake Thompson
After defeating Southside Christian 42-16 early in the season, the Bethesda girls’ basketball team came into last night’s rematch a bit overconfident and it almost cost the Patriots the game.
However, a late fourth quarter surge propelled Bethesda past Southside, 53-45.
“It seems the girls just woke up and finally decided they were going to play basketball,” Bethesda assistant coach Shannon Conners said. “That’s been the bane of our existence this season, playing really lackadaisical and then coming back toward the end. They just waited a little longer to come back today than they normally do.”
Bethesda led 12-7 after the first and 23-21 at the half after some sharp shooting from the Sharks kept the game close. In the third, Southside hit 6 of 9 shots while Bethesda went 2 of 16 and the Sharks led by eight, 36-28, heading into the final period.
Bethesda suddenly felt a sense of urgency and clawed its way back into the game, tying it 45-45 with 1:37 remaining.
The Patriots then went on an 8-0 run to close out the contest.
That comeback wouldn’t have been necessary if the Patriots didn’t get out to such a lethargic effort against a squad they should have dominated, Conners said.
“I am guilty of that myself,” Conners said about Bethesda’s overconfidence coming in. “(Head) coach (Wayne) Leichty is away on business and the last thing he said to me before he left was ‘You know, I don’t think we need to press them to start off with and everybody should get a lot of playing time.’ That’s the mentality we went in with and they surprised us. They have some shooters.”
Carly Baker led Bethesda with a double-double, scoring 22 points and pulling down 12 rebounds from her play in the post. Baker, a senior, agreed with Conners’ assessment.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t give them enough credit and that’ll teach us next time,” she said. “We’re definitely a second half team and pulled it all together with our idea of praise and unity, giving it our all.”
Once the Patriots got their offense going down low with Baker and freshman Morgan Reffeitt, Bethesda was hard to stop. The pair combined for 14 of the Patriots’ 25 fourth-quarter points.
Like Baker, Reffeitt also tallied a double-double on the night, dropping in 14 points to go along with 14 rebounds.
“What we’ve been trying to do all year is use our big girls but our guards were struggling to get the ball in to them,” Conners said. “We ran some plays set up just for them to get it. We knew we had a size advantage and they used it, stepped up, and we had some senior and freshman leadership there. So, we’ll take it. We’ll take it.”
Bethesda (9-7) was on a four-game losing streak coming into the night and with only four games remaining in the regular season, the victory was welcomed.
“We needed it,” Conners said. “This game was crucial for us. We’ve got some big games coming up and going into tournament play, we need to get some (wins) on the board and get some confidence back up.”
Bethesda’s Kendra Okey and Cassie Mitchell each had five points on the night while Emily Hayden (4), Lydia Trapp (2), and Lauren Buck (1) rounded out the scoring.