The familiar feelings of frustration bubbled up during the video session, but the exercise also proved therapeutic.
“Basketball is really just a game of making corrections,” said Lewis, who has signed to play at Central Connecticut State. “When you can correct a mistake you’ve made, it’s easy to turn things around. We wanted to take the time to make adjustments instead of doing the same things to get the same negative results.”
Three nights later, Lewis showcased those adjustments in the rematch, finishing with 19 points and 13 rebounds in Friendly’s 72-60 win at Gwynn Park. The Patriots registered 31 turnovers in their 16-point loss on Jan. 15, but they slashed that number to 15 in Thursday’s matchup and handed the Yellow Jackets their first loss since Dec. 27.
Although Gwynn Park (18-3, 17-1 PG 3A/2A/1A) had already clinched the Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A title, Friendly (17-4, 16-2) was able to lock up the top seed in the Maryland 3A South playoffs with its ninth straight victory.
“We played with more composure the second time around, and I thought we took advantage of our size.” said Coach Carroll Holmes, best known as the longtime boys’ coach at Carroll. “They want to speed you up a little bit, and we needed to handle the pressure and protect the ball better.”
In a six-day span, Friendly avenged both of its league losses. The Patriots beat Largo, 60-53, on Feb. 8 after losing to the Lions by two points five weeks ago. Lewis finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds in that game.
Now Friendly will see if it can use the late-season momentum as a springboard for its first state tournament appearance since 1997. A year ago, the Patriots pulled the same upset of Gwynn Park in their regular season finale and then made it to the region final where they fell to Westlake on their home court.
This season, Lewis, a fourth-year varsity player, leads the team in scoring (16.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg). She notched her 1,000th career point with a first-half basket in last Tuesday’s win over Potomac (Md.).
Seniors Janay Carter (11.8 ppg) and Breanna Brown (7.0 ppg) have also been mainstays in the team’s lineup since Holmes took over in 2010. Carter, a 6-foot-1 forward, will play at Delaware State next season.
The Patriots are set to open the playoffs next week against the winner of a first-round matchup between Potomac (Md.) and Thomas Stone. Meantime, Gwynn Park — the No. 2 seed in the Maryland 2A South behind Calvert — will play No. 6 Eleanor Roosevelt in Wednesday’s Prince George’s County title game at Wise.
“This will be our week to keep pushing,” Carter said. “We’ve already had our celebration [for beating Gwynn Park]. That game’s over. We have to look ahead to our first playoff game now and not focus on anything else.”