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Kelli Prange fights off foul trouble to lead Damascus over Northwest

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After picking up two early fouls in Friday night’s game against Northwest, Damascus forward Kelli Prange went to the bench for the rest of the first half. While she watched her team struggle through a shooting slump, Prange didn’t get impatient, nor did she plead with her coach to put her back in. She sat calmly, wearing the look of a player poised to make the most of her time on the floor in the second half.

And she did. Prange’s physicality on both ends of the floor was the difference in the final two quarters, as the 6-foot-4 junior scored 10 points and added five rebounds to lead Damascus to a 54-38 win over Northwest in Germantown.

“It was a dumb move by me. I got to sit the first half,” Prange said of her two early fouls. “I went into the locker room and my coach [Steve Pisarski] was like, ‘Keep your head up. You’re going to do fine in the second half.’ And I came in and demanded the ball in the post.”

It was a sloppy win for the Hornets (3-0), who struggled to pull away from a scrappy Jaguars squad that entered the night unbeaten and looking to catch one of Montgomery County’s best teams off guard. Damascus is playing a high-profile game Saturday against Neumann-Goretti (Pa.) in the Tina Thompson She Got Game Classic at Bishop McNamara.

Northwest (3-1) led 20-18 near the end of the first half, thanks to the slashing ability of guard Kendra Meredith (21 points), but Damascus put together a 13-0 run to end the quarter and didn’t allow Northwest to score again until the four-minute mark of the third. Much of that was due to the front-court presence of Damascus, which received solid contributions from 6-1 forward Beck Barrett (six rebounds) and 6-1 center Lauren Derby (11 points).

But Prange was the difference in the second half. She scored the first points of the third quarter with a power move on the block, and wowed the crowd with a series of spin-move buckets during the frame. One came after she posted up her opponent and took an inbound pass from halfcourt that made it 41-22 near the end of the third quarter.

“We have a few plays that we just . . . concentrate on posting up because we have the size advantage,” Prange said. “Three of our key players are over six-foot, so we just want to get it into the post.”

Damascus, which entered Friday night having won its first two games by a combined score of 151-65, will likely get its toughest test of the season Saturday against Neumann-Goretti, Pisarski said. The task would’ve been much tougher had his team overlooked Northwest Friday.

“[Northwest] came out and gave us a good shot,” Pisarski said. “We kind of fought through their best shot . . . then we started to work the ball inside, which is a strength of ours.”

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