Tuesday night the Stone Bridge girls held host Potomac Falls to just three points in the third quarter, en route to their seventh consecutive win, 42-27.
“We knew that we wanted to turn them into jump-shooters tonight,” Coach Linder said. “They had some size on us; we did everything we could to not let them in the paint. In that third quarter we really executed our game plan – we kept them outside and didn’t give them any easy buckets in or around the basket.”
Defense is always an emphasis on Coach Linder’s teams – the Bulldogs have held their opponents to just 29.66 points per game, which is the lowest in the Potomac District.
Senior center Sarah O’Day and senior guard Kat Cassidy led the Bulldogs with 10 points each.
Stone Bridge got on the scoreboard first after O’Day banked in a shot from the foul line. The Panthers responded on the following possession when senior forward Hope Palmer converted a layup off a pass from junior guard Julia Hoffman. The two teams traded baskets throughout the first quarter, but Potomac Falls lead 11-9 at the end of the quarter, thanks to physicality under the hoop which led to second-chance baskets.
“(We need to) be more physical and dictate to other teams in the game, rather than letting them dictate us,” Coach Linder said. “I think we handled their physicality well in the second half, but I don’t think we brought it in the first half.”
Cassidy started the second quarter by driving to the basket and drawing a foul. She sank both free throws to tie the game at 11, with seven minutes remaining in the half. Cassidy struck again, as she stole the ball and converted a breakaway layup to give the Bulldogs a 13-11 lead. Stone Bridge ended the half on a 7-3 run, which gave them a 20-14 lead heading into the third quarter.
During the third quarter the Bulldogs extended their lead to 13, as they found a groove defensively and only conceded three points.
“They’re playing like a team,” Coach Linder said. “There were some bright spots tonight defensively.”
Coach Linder’s team used a mix of man and zone defense to slow down the Panthers (4-4), who were missing four players due to quarantine. The Bulldogs also occasionally used a full court press to help force turnovers and keep the Panthers out of rhythm.
To start the fourth quarter, Potomac Falls junior guard Amy Miller drove to the basket and converted a contested layup, while also drawing a foul. She sank her free throw, which reduced the Bulldogs lead to ten at 30-20. Potomac Falls fought hard until the end, but Stone Bridge closed the game out with a 12-7 run.
At 8-1, the Bulldogs remain at the top of the Potomac District with four games left to play in the regular season. Stone Bridge will play Woodgrove in its regular season finale on Jan. 30th; the Wolverines are still undefeated and handed the Bulldogs their sole loss on Dec. 22nd.
Coach Linder was happy to see his team work together, and he has also been pleased to get contributions throughout the roster this season.
“We have so many different players that can do things,” Coach Linder said. “We’re playing well as a team and trusting one another. Every night it’s a different person.”
The Bulldogs will be back in action tonight as they take on Riverside High School at home at 7:30 pm. The game will be available on NFHS Network at: https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/stone-bridge-high-school-ashburn-va/gam8a7971a9b4