Gaithersburg girls’ basketball Coach Adrian McDaniel skipped down the sideline in his slacks and bow tie, smiling wide after one of his players converted a three-point play late in overtime on Friday night against host Paint Branch.
He was the most animated character during the unfolding drama all evening — but a quiet, bruising forward named Janessa Fauntroy ended up stealing the show.
Fauntroy scored 15 points, including two crucial baskets in the extra period, to lift the Trojans to a 67-64 win over the Panthers in a key Montgomery County 4A game.
“I wanted to stay aggressive,” Fauntroy said.
Gaithersburg (11-4) has won eight straight games.
Friday’s victory marked the third time in the last four games that the Trojans have won by three points or fewer. Moreover, it represented the late-season revival of a proud program that started the year 3-4 and shouldered the loss that snapped the school’s 53-game winning streak dating from last season.
On Friday, Fauntroy was the catalyst. One minute after Fauntroy came up with a resounding block that kept her team within two points in regulation, Paint Branch (14-3) had one more chance with 19 seconds left and the game tied at 55.
But Fauntroy swatted another shot in the lane to help her team force overtime.
She then scored the first four Gaithersburg points in overtime — and the second basket cut Paint Branch’s lead to 60-59.
“I knew in the end, we needed that block,” Fauntroy said. “I think it helped my enthusiasm stay up.”
Gaithersburg junior Danielle Rojas earned a three-point play on the ensuing possession to make it 62-60 with 1 minute 11 seconds left. After the teams traded free throws in the final moments, Paint Branch’s 25-foot shot at the buzzer rimmed out.
“They gave us a good punch. We came back,” McDaniel said. “We know if we can get them in a half-court set, we would be good.”
It was Paint Branch’s first loss in six weeks, snapping an 11-game winning streak.
The Panthers received 20 points from guard Kiara Coltson; backcourt mate Daisa Harris added 16. Colston had 11 after halftime, but that wasn’t enough to match Fauntroy, who despite playing with four fouls late in the second half continued to carry her team on both ends.
She fouled out in the final seconds of the extra stanza, only to be hugged by McDaniel when she came off the floor.
“We’re not only playing with each other, we’re playing off each other. That’s one of the main reasons we’re doing a lot better as a team,” Fauntroy said. “We’ve come a long way.”