After Riverdale Baptist guard Chania Ray nailed a three-pointer at the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter, Damascus Coach Steve Pisarski leaned back like he was doing the limbo on the sideline and cringed. His team had been clawing its way back from a deep hole, and moments earlier, the Swarmin’ Hornets had cut the deficit to six.
In a flash, the outlet pass found its way to Ray, who then provided the dagger. The Florida State-bound guard was sensational Tuesday, scoring 22 points to lift the second-ranked Crusaders past No. 5 Damascus, 70-59, in a non-league showdown in Upper Marlboro.
“I knew it was a big shot ,” Ray said. “We didn’t know for sure that we had them, but we kept playing and came out to get the ‘W.’ ”
It was a rare area test for the Crusaders, who have won eight straight and whose up-tempo style clashed against physical, half-court minded Damascus (18-3) from the outset. But Ray scored 14 of her 22 before halftime, and 2012 first-team All-Met Chloe Jackson added 8 of her 17 in the first two quarters to help Riverdale Baptist (21-3) open up a 33-27 halftime advantage.
“It's just a different style,” Jackson said of Damascus. “They came at us a different type of way, so it was a more intense game.”
The lead ballooned to 52-40 after freshman Olivia Martino hit a three-pointer late in the third quarter. But Damascus didn’t go away behind a stellar performance by 6-foot-4 center Kelli Prange, who scored 26 points and helped her team pull within six midway through the fourth quarter.
Ray’s three-pointer deflated the run, and her ability to knock down open shots on the perimeter ended the Swarmin’ Hornets’ 11-game winning streak.
“Chania came in here and knocked down all those big threes,” Prange said, “and really showed us that we need to guard the three.”
Riverdale Baptist finished with 11 three-pointers, a testament to the team’s ball movement. Ray hit two of them, looking as comfortable as she has all season on her home floor. It was the last home game of her career there, and it was a fiiting way to go out.
“It was a couple more threes than normal, so yeah, it made a difference in the game,” Ray said of her team’s hot shooting. “It gave us that little push we needed every time we knocked them down.”