The basketball doubleheader between Lackey and McDonough on Friday night -- the only area games played because Friday's snow canceled school in Calvert and St. Mary's counties -- featured a bizarre similarity.
Both of the winning teams, the Chargers girls and Rams boys, overcame deficits that were partly the result of coaches benching one of their top players the entire first quarter.
Lackey junior guard Jonetta Jackson, the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference's leading scorer at 22.6 points per game, watched the game's first eight minutes as part of a strategic move by Coach Maurio Cole. The Chargers trailed the winless Rams by seven when she entered the game and by as much as 17 in the second quarter before rallying for a 56-49 victory.
McDonough senior forward Anthony Ford, who averages 14.8 points and provides great inside balance for the outside touch of senior guard Trey Morrissette (23.8), sat the first quarter because Coach Dave Rooney wanted to incite him.
Down by as many as eight points in the first quarter, Ford's presence in the paint the final three quarters (particularly on the offensive glass) helped lead the Rams to a 69-58 win.
"It almost backfired on me," Cole said of his plan. "I thought it would be easier for [Jackson] to see what was going on with their offense and defense if she sat for a while. It's something I plan to do with a couple of the players, one at a time. I did the same thing with Jonetta in our last game against Surrattsville, and she came in and scored 25.
"But in that first quarter I was thinking I had made the biggest mistake . . . I started second-guessing myself."
Still, Cole didn't budge. Nor did he panic when Jackson missed all seven of her second-quarter field goal attempts. Her only two points of the half came at the foul line, and Lackey went to the locker room trailing McDonough 25-13.
"Once I got in there I knew I just had to do whatever I could to get back in the game," Jackson said. "At first I was getting a little frustrated because I couldn't hit a jumper, so I just decided in the second half I was going to take it in and score."
Jackson did more than that, taking over the game with her shooting touch and quick hands, which contributed five steals and precise passing. Lackey slowly chipped away at McDonough's lead, pulling to 43-36 with 4 minutes 18 seconds to play.
Jackson scored seven points in a 51-second span and found freshman Janaye Jordan wide open for a layup that gave the Chargers their first lead of the game, 45-43. Jackson scored 16 of her game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter, including 12 in the game's final four minutes.
"She doesn't stop," Cole said of Jackson. "The girl doesn't get tired . . . and she gets everyone involved. I guess it all worked out in the end, even if I did about have a heart attack over there."
Rooney's decision to sit Ford was done more for motivational purposes: The 6-foot-3 senior hadn't been as dominant as Rooney had hoped in recent games, and Rooney thought a benching might rouse him.
"I wanted to get him a little upset," Rooney said. "He hasn't been playing very hard. He's a kid who can take over games physically inside and he hasn't been doing it. Tonight, he did. He was pretty fired up at me when he went into the game."
Like Jackson, Ford was slow to rally. He scored four second-quarter points, but added 12 in the second half as a complement to Morrissette's team-high 23 points. More important, Ford also grabbed one critical rebound after another.
Tied at 46 with less than a minute to play in the third quarter, an offensive rebound and put-back by Ford gave the Rams a 48-46 lead. McDonough never trailed again.
"This was the most physical we've played all season," Rooney said. "Boards and transition defense are the two things that drive every coach crazy. The boards we took care of tonight, and Anthony played a big part in that. The transition we still need to work on."
Lackey junior Kelvin Henry, who sat for more than six minutes in the second half with four fouls, and senior Eric Wood paced the Chargers with 24 and 21 points, respectively.