Girls’ basketball: Eleanor Roosevelt’s Tolu Omokore, Kaila Charles help turn back Bowie

December 19, 2013

Few of the girls’ basketball teams in Prince George’s 4A have the offensive firepower or defensive aggressiveness of No. 5 Eleanor Roosevelt. And none of the others have center-forward Tolu Omokore.

Thursday night against Bowie, one of those conference rivals that just might have the size and skill to derail the Raiders , the 6-foot Omokore established herself as a difference maker, snagging 11 offensive rebounds in a characteristically relentless inside effort to help her team withstand a furious fourth-quarter charge in a 58-50 win.

“Tolu dominated as usual,” Roosevelt Coach Delton Fuller said. “She’s averaging 15 to 20 [rebounds] a game. She’s just dominating.”

Neither team shot well from the floor or the free throw line, so the second-chance points Omokore provided proved vital to Roosevelt (4-0, 4-0 Prince George’s 4A), both in building a 13-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, and in hanging on when the Bulldogs (3-3, 2-2) cut that lead to one with just more than three minutes to go.

When that lead collapsed, sophomore guard Kaila Charles held the Bulldogs off almost single-handedly, seizing the game by sinking three straight shots in less than a minute — none without a defender in her face, one with three charging her.

“I was just trying to motivate us to take the lead,” Charles said. “Be calm, but still score.”

Charles finished with 21 points, driving the Raiders’ scoring attack. When the offense sputtered, Omokore’s work got it going again. Asked her secret to tracking down caroms, the junior laughed. “I don’t know. . . . I just jump.”

“She’s like a magnet,” Charles said. “It makes us happy [when Omokore gets a rebound] because we get another chance to score.”

Omokore’s presence was all the more glaring because of Bowie’s shooting struggles through the first three quarters. But the Bulldogs, generally a strong outside shooting team, stayed close enough to make a charge — until Charles and Omokore turned the Bulldogs back.

“We all know her game,” Bowie Coach Chris Ferguson said. “Half the girls on our team played with her in the summertime. They know: All she’s going to do is rebound.”

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