If the continuous, piercing screams of DEFENSE!-defense!-DEFENSE!-defense! from the Severna Park girls basketball bench weren’t enough, maybe the trio of first-quarter blocks by Lena McLaughlin, Julia Ryan and Rachel Spilker or the smothering help rotations of Jess Albert, Kelsey Powers and Rachel Ward or the hellacious on-the-ball pressure of Cam Chew made the message clear: Broadneck was in for a long night.
The Falcons dropped a defensive bomb on the Bruins January 11, demolishing every Broadneck action and limiting the host Bruins to just three field goals in an overwhelming 50-13 rivalry throttling.
Three days after holding Chesapeake to 30 points and winning ugly in a 34-30 defensive battle against the Cougars, Severna Park was at it again with its defense, this time annihilating the Bruins to improve to 8-3 overall and 5-1 in the county.
“I thought we had a really good game plan, and these girls do a great job preparing for teams,” said Falcons coach Kris Dean. “We’re not the best offensive team, so we’ve got to be good at something. We work defense to a T, every single day. We stop, we adjust what we need to, and there’s nothing with our defense that we don’t go over. These girls have bought in from the second we started this year, and we knew they would. We pride ourselves on defense, and these girls are working their butts off every day.”
As Dean noted, the Falcons have relied on defense throughout the season. Severna Park has allowed more than 40 points only once this winter and is yielding a paltry 27.8 points per game on average to the opposition in eight victories.
Nothing changed against Broadneck (4-5), except that the Falcons deployed their defense even better than they have all year. Blocks, steals, perimeter pressure and excellent rebounding in the first quarter allowed Severna Park to navigate through a so-so offensive start, and the Falcons led 11-0 behind 6 first-quarter points by McLaughlin and buckets by Albert and Ward. McLaughlin found Hailey Betch with a nice inside pass out of the quarter break to make it 13-0 early in the second quarter; McLaughlin ended the game with a team-high 12 points.
Chew entered the game late in the first period and agitated Broadneck’s ball handlers, coming up with two steals and two deflections. In the second quarter, Chew swished a 3-pointer and fed Betch inside for another basket to give Severna Park a 20-1 lead.
Both reserves, Betch finished with 9 points and Chew scored 8. Chew gave insight on her fundamentals when asked about the team’s defense.
“All you gotta do is sit down, get low and make sure you slide your feet to be able to stop them,” said Chew, a junior who recently committed verbally to play lacrosse at Loyola. “We’ve got to make sure we’re in help, first slide, second slide, hedging, so everyone on defense has a job even when they’re far away from the ball, they’re always in help making sure they’re looking and ready to help. I feel like this was a team win. Everyone on the bench got in, and it’s always great to beat Broadneck.”
Severna Park’s offense was galvanized by its D, as the Falcons moved the ball crisply to get open shots in the second and third quarters.
“We recognized that they were pressuring early in the game, and we used that to our advantage,” said Spilker. “We had some height on them, and it worked out. We moved the ball really well, and it came together for us playing as a team.”
Trailing 24-3 at half, Broadneck didn’t record a field goal until the third quarter, when freshman Nicole Hagopian hit a 3-pointer. In the Bruins’ victory over Southern a week prior, Hagopian hit eight 3-pointers and scored 28 points, but she was limited to only 3 against the Falcons. Ty Washington scored 4 points for Broadneck; Devon McCue, Nellie Gownley and Caleigh Fletcher had 2 points apiece.
With a sizable lead, the Falcon reserves got minutes in the second half, and the starters delighted to see senior Campbell Kline drive and finish for a bucket and the foul. Kline finished with 6 points, and Powers scored 4, both getting all their points in the second half. Kaila Stasuli, Delaney Ott, Lilly Knapp, Michaela Schnidler and Maddy Gillin all got minutes in the win.
As one of the first players off the bench, Powers spoke proudly of the Falcon reserves. Severna Park’s bench was chanting constantly throughout the game, particularly in the first half, when the Falcons’ shrill stream of incessant cheers was bearing down on Broadneck’s offensive end of the floor.
“It’s a big part of our team and a big part of what we do,” said Powers. “They’re always awesome, the bench, they’re always very supportive, always cheering, always loud. We’ll be down or an individual will be down, and you hear the bench, and you get hyped up. It’s a big part of what we do.”
She said the Falcons have a goal for their emerging identity.
“We are trying to be the best defensive team in the county,” said Powers. “That’s our goal. Our coaches always talk about it. Defense is really where you win the game.”