Girls basketball takes 27-48 loss against Walter Johnson in home opener

The Rockets fought hard against the Wildcats but ultimately fell short.

Photo by Katie Spencer

The Rockets fought hard against the Wildcats but ultimately fell short.

The RM girls basketball team hosted the Walter Johnson Wildcats in their season opener on Thursday, Dec. 6. In the absence of last season’s record-breaking greats, including Melanie Osborne, Karon Williams, and Nusaibah Rashad, the Rockets found themselves with very tough shoes to fill. Despite a formidable second half, Richard Montgomery was unable to seize the lead after a rocky first quarter.

WJ won the jump and immediately ran away with the lead. The Wildcats pressed early to force turnovers, and their impenetrable man-on-man coverage made it difficult for RM to inbound the ball. Walter Johnson’s height helped them outmatch the Rockets in rebounding as well.

Photo by Katie Spencer.

Richard Montgomery hustled back on defense, but to no avail. Their shots from the floor just were not falling, and many threes taken from near the baseline became missed opportunities instead. Each of the few times that an RM player was sent to the foul line, they came back empty-handed.  

The Rockets called a much-needed time out to recuperate before playing out the last two and a half minutes of the quarter. Freshman guard Grace Gibbs finally broke the drought with a shot from the corner, but Richard Montgomery still trailed 5-20, and had racked up 6 team fouls. The damage had been done, and RM would not be able to recover.

The second quarter brought more success for Walter Johnson, although the Rockets found a quick burst of momentum just before the half. Junior forward Taheerah Rashad put up two quick points in the paint just before sophomore guard Calie Dunn followed. RM was down 11-36 at the half, but they would carry that spurt of momentum with them into the second half.

Photo by Katie Spencer.

The Rockets were able to cycle more players in during the next two quarters, and Richard Montgomery gained some ground with offensive efforts from junior guard Caroline Maggio and junior forward Naimah Lewis. Freshmen Una Mekic and Talia Kouncar each had their first varsity basket to contribute to the score. Even though the Rockets won the second half 16-12, WJ had done enough to comfortably win the game 48-27.

Despite the game’s slow start, the girls are still proud of the later momentum. “We did a really good job picking it up in the second half,” Dunn said. “This was our first time playing as this team, and I think we did well overcoming the obstacles that we faced, together.”

In the face of a difficult transition year, Coach Oakes remains confident in the abilities of his younger team. “The season is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said, “and our season is going to be defined more by how we react to this, as opposed to what happened tonight.”

The team still awaits the debut of their highly-anticipated new recruit, Anujin Dashdorj, a junior transfer from St. John’s College High School. Dashdorj currently has a concussion, and will sit out for at least the next two games. “She’s been scoring 25 points each game for us in the scrimmages,” Coach Oakes said. Hopefully Dashdorj’s pre-season successes will continue after her return.

Currently the Rockets’ record is 1-2 after defeating the Kennedy Cavaliers 57-40 but falling to Paint Branch 12-74. The Rockets seek redemption as they host the Holton-Arms Panthers this Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.