Bowie’s girls’ basketball team works to handle the pressure

January 14, 2013

As the bad passes and poor decisions piled up early in the Lady Crusader Holiday Tournament final on Dec. 30, Bowie girls’ basketball coach Chris Ferguson tried every coaching trick in the book to stem the tide. But the timeouts and substitutions failed to kickstart his team’s offense against Edison’s trapping press, and the Eagles scored the game’s first 19 points en route to a 58-47 victory.

Before Bowie’s first loss had even finished, Ferguson came to a clear conclusion: The 16th-ranked Bulldogs (10-1, 8-0 PG 4A) just weren’t ready to handle the defensive pressure.

“I had to go back to the drawing board after that,” said Ferguson, whose squad is currently tied atop the Prince George’s 4A standings with No. 14 Eleanor Roosevelt (11-0, 8-0). “We started to practice [running offense] against everything, so we won’t ever be in shock again like we were against Edison.”

The loss stands out because Bowie has not been tested otherwise with its 10 wins coming by an average of 42.3 points per game. In league play, the Bulldogs have had no trouble pushing the tempo and scoring in bunches with two of the county’s better facilitators, juniors McKenzi Bess and Serena Brown, alternating time at point guard. Five players average at least seven points per game, led by junior Marshauna Butler at 15 points per game.

Bowie’s attack should be challenged once again this week with games against the other two teams in the hunt for the Prince George’s 4A title. The Bulldogs, who made their only state tournament appearance in 1992, host No. 20 C.H. Flowers (9-2, 7-1) on Tuesday before visiting Eleanor Roosevelt on Friday.

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from high school basketball games in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

Ferguson takes the blame for his team’s struggles against now-No. 9 Edison and said everyone learned from the early meltdown, which has changed the way he runs practices.

The former McNamara assistant jumped into his first season at Bowie determined to use mostly man-to-man defense. The Bulldogs, who had played zone almost exclusively under former coach Michael Hines, spent so much time getting their own defense right that they hadn’t been able to practice against more exotic sets that are uncommon in their league.

After watching tape of Eleanor Roosevelt and C.H. Flowers, Ferguson began preparing his players for specific looks they may see on offense and defense against the contenders, so there are no surprises entering their most important games of the season to date.

“This is the week that’s going to show us where we stand, at least right now,” Ferguson said. “I’m pretty excited about it. . . . We’ve been practicing to prepare for [Eleanor Roosevelt and C.H. Flowers] for the past two weeks or so. It’s up to the girls now.”

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