La Plata Coach Megan Longo leapt from the team bench Friday night with 2 minutes 44 seconds left in overtime, her hands thrust above her head. It was quite a reaction for such an early-season game against Thomas Stone, but then, teams don't come back from 17-point deficits every day.
Especially teams like the Warriors, who have not had a winning season in years.
La Plata improved to 3-0 after overcoming a large first-quarter deficit. Senior forward Kia Stewart provided the boost, scoring 39 points in a 61-51 victory over the Cougars.
"Can you believe that?" asked Longo, the Warriors' second-year coach. "I think I just took 15 years off my life with that one. But I tell you what, 3-0 feels very good. It's been a long time since this team's built any kind of win streak."
The boys' game in the second half of the doubleheader didn't feature a dramatic ending, but it didn't lack for excitement, either. Thomas Stone and La Plata played at a frantic pace the entire game, ending in a 105-88 Cougar victory.
"This seems to be our identity," second-year Thomas Stone Coach Dale Lamberth said of the tempo. "It's what the guys feel comfortable with, so as coaches we have to go with the flow. Even though it may look a little wild at times, we do have a method to the madness."
The Cougars (2-0) trailed only once after the game's opening basket but were pushed in the first half by the surprise pinpoint shooting of La Plata senior forward Brandon Tubbs. Tubbs, who returned to La Plata after a year at Friendly, made his first eight shots from the field, including a three-pointer on which he was fouled and successfully completed the four-point play.
Another three-pointer by Tubbs midway through the third quarter narrowed the Cougars' lead to 55-53 before Thomas Stone took over. Led by senior forward Daniel Bell (34 points), junior forward Xavier Davis (20 points) and senior guard Antonio Lewis (19 points), Thomas Stone displayed the kind of inside-outside versatility that is hard to stop.
"We haven't had any practice time this week, and it's killing us," said La Plata Coach Mike Meiser, whose team is 1-3, with its other losses coming to strong Chopticon and Southern Maryland Christian Academy teams. "We're going to spend hours tomorrow just working on our defense. Our kids never gave up -- they were working full-speed right at the end -- and I feel positive about what we're doing. We've got the kind of team where we expect to put up 80-some every game. We just can't give up 105 in return."
The girls' game featured far less outside shooting but was instead highlighted by Stewart's strength and power inside. She netted 13 of her 15 field goals on layups; banking in the other two shots on short jumpers. Stewart gave La Plata its first lead of the game, 45-43, with 2:23 left in regulation on one of those two jumpers. A short jumper by Thomas Stone freshman Angela Clarke with 17 seconds to play -- her only successful field goal of the game -- sent it to overtime.
The Warriors, riding the momentum they had built in the second half, scored the first 12 points in the overtime period -- more than enough to bring Longo to her feet.
"We didn't really wake up until the second quarter," Stewart said. "But once we did, we started talking and working together. This is our year to try and make something happen."