Published by The Enterprise on February 28, 2018
By MICHAEL REID firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Mary's Ryken saw its basketball season come to an end Saturday following a 79-53 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference quarterfinal loss to top-seeded St. John's College High School of Washington, D.C., on Saturday at DeMatha High School in Prince George's County.
JaKayla Brown scored a team-high 16 points for the Knights (8-19 overall) while Chalon Miles added 10 points.
Brown was later named to the All-WCAC first team, while Miles and Katie White were named honorable mentions.
St. John's defeated Paul VI (Va.) on Monday night 54-49 to win its second-straight WCAC title.
Eighth-seeded St. Mary's Ryken opened its playoff run on Thursday with a 66-50 win in a tournament play-in game over Holy Cross of Montgomery County.
"We knew we needed to play together, work hard defensively and let our offense come off our defense," St. Mary's Ryken head coach Toyja Somerville said. "I thought they did what we asked them to do. I was very pleased with them."
"I'm pleased with the energy, especially with the effort that was there and we moved the ball really well and shared the ball really well and got a lot of open looks," said Brown, who scored a team-high 22 points. "I also think we rebounded and defended well. It was one of our best games of the season."
The Knights jumped out to an early 7-3 lead, but the Tartans (1-18) scored 16 of the next 16 points — including 10 by Bria Fuller (game-high 23 points) — to inch ahead 15-11 late in the first quarter.
After a St. Mary's Ryken timeout, the Knights scored the last three points of the period to pull within 15-14.
St. Mary's Ryken scored 12 of the first 16 points of the second quarter and outscored Holy Cross 21-6 in the period to take a 35-21 lead into halftime.
"It was because of our defense," Somerville said of the game-changing run. "We were going back and forth between zone and man [defense] and then we started to apply some pressure, and that kind of got to Holy Cross. The energy that came from our defense kind of catapulted our offense and our offensive production."
"I think we came out twice as strong in the second [quarter] and we really wanted it more than the other team did," said St. Mary's Mikayla Hefferon, who scored seven points, including a three-pointer with 9.9 seconds left in the third that brought the gym to its feet. "They put up a good fight, but I just think we wanted it more tonight."
The Tartans would never threaten again.
Miles added 12 points for the Knights and Kathryn White scored eight. A total of nine St. Mary's Ryken players scored at least one point.
"I was very pleased. We played as a team, we played together and we had fun and the energy was high and everyone's spirit was high," Hefferon said.
"I can't say enough about Mikayla," Somerville said. "She's not one of our starters, but she has really bought into the system we're trying to build and she plays her role. She's just one of those kids that understands her role and lifts everyone around her. I think JaKayla played well and gave us another good night tonight, and our freshman [starting point guard] Tanasia Miles stepped in and is really showing herself as a kid to be watched in the conference."
St. Mary's Ryken will lose three guards to graduation; Brown, Tanasia Miles and Kennedy Paton.
"They were ready to play," Holy Cross head coach John Witherspoon said. "You could see it in their eyes and voices that they were ready to play. They're a tough team and ... they're playing very well right now."
Season ends for SMR boys
Wynston Tabbs was named the All-WCAC first team, while Servet Kurnaz, Lelan Eackles, D'Angelo Tull, Louis Tang and Mike Sumner were honorable mention selections.