St. Mary's Ryken girls basketball downs Leonardtown
By Ted Black
In one of those early, rare, non-conference meetings among private and public school squads located deep in Southern Maryland on Monday evening, the St. Mary's Ryken High School girls basketball team upended visiting Leonardtown High 100-48 on Monday evening.
St. Mary's Ryken (5-0) has vaulted to a fast start to the current season with three of those victories being by 50 points or more, including a pair of lopsided tallies against Southern Maryland Athletic Conference squads Westlake and Leonardtown. But sixth-year coach Toyja Somerville is still cautiously optimistic about the season with games in the tough Washington Catholic Athletic Conference still on the horizon.
"All of these games in December are about building chemistry and improving the culture," Somerville said following Monday's victory. "We're looking to keep getting better with each game. Once we get into the [WCAC] schedule, every game is going to be really tough. But I like what we've done through the first five games."
While St. Mary's Ryken has been busy through the brief fall portion of the schedule, Leonardtown (0-1) opened the season somewhat belatedly on Monday. Many of its fellow SMAC squads played in at least two games last week when the winter sports schedule officially got under way beginning on Dec. 5, but Monday, Dec. 12, marked the Raiders' 2022-2023 debut.
"I can't be disappointed with the first game," said Leonardtown fifth-year coach Tylita Butler. "This was our first game of the season. We played a very talented, well-coached team. But what I really liked the most was that my girls never gave up. They never quit. They never looked at the scoreboard and stopped playing."
With a quartet of games underneath them before Monday's non-conference contest, St. Mary's Ryken clearly appeared the more cohesive group against the debuting Raiders. Three-point field goals from Lourden Banks, Soleil Kennedy and Mekhia Chase in the early stages of the first quarter enabled the Knights to forge a 17-6 lead and the Raiders never got back to within single digits despite three-pointers from seniors India Barrow and Sara Griffith.
St. Mary's Ryken had gained control of the contest in the opening minutes and then quickly extended their advantage in the second quarter. Again with Banks and Kya Cook connecting from the perimeter and Chase weaving between defenders for buckets inside, the Knights embarked on an 11-0 run late in the second quarter that vaulted the hosts to a 48-16 lead in the waning moments of the half.
The Catholic school team continued to pad its advantage in the second half on jumpers from Banks and buckets inside from Chase, but Leonardtown sought to counter with three-pointers from Griffith and sophomore Madison Baldwin. Leading 81-35 heading to the final frame, the Knights got ample playing time for their reserves and sophomore Sydney Thompson scored 16 points off the bench, including a trio of three-point field goals.
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