To Calvert junior guard Alexis Smith, there’s only one speed: 100 mph. Once the opponent’s shot clangs off the rim, she darts upcourt and turns her head, waiting for her teammate to collect the ball and toss it to her.
It’s a skill, one that highlights her speed, that she and the seventh-ranked Cavaliers have excelled at, winning last season’s Maryland 2A title with that up-tempo approach. And facing a rare double-digit halftime deficit against unbeaten Georgetown Day in Saturday’s Tina Thompson She Got Game Classic in Forestville, Calvert again played to its strength.
The Cavaliers’ transition game, led by Smith’s game-high 26 points, keyed a second-half comeback that overcame the Mighty Hoppers’ zone defense and length in a 56-45 win.
Calvert (5-0) took its first lead, 42-41, with 4 minutes 45 seconds left on a jump shot by Smith. On the next play, the wiry 5-foot-6 Smith forced a turnover that led to a fast-break layup by senior Tiara Lester. Smith then stole the ball and raced for another layup.
When asked about her teammate’s speed, senior guard Rachel Loube (11 points) offered this response: “We haven’t figured that out. She’s kind of inhuman to us. She just has amazing speed and ever-lasting energy, just like a battery. As soon as the ball comes out, she’s down on the other side at the basket.”
Smith, who has been offered a scholarship by East Carolina but also has drawn interest from schools such as Delaware, Drexel and Richmond, said she learned the fast-break skill from her AAU coach in middle school. And since she grew up playing with many of Calvert’s players, it was a natural fit for the team to feature a quick-paced approach.
“I kept doing it as I played throughout the years and I started doing it when I went to Calvert,” she said.
Georgetown Day (7-1) played Calvert tough, particularly through the first two quarters. The Mighty Hoppers were without standout forward Zoe Beard-Fails, who tore her meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament in a game last week, according to Coach Bobby Asher, and will require surgery.
Senior guard Bryanna Robinson, a Loyola signee, led Georgetown Day with 16 points and helped build the 29-16 halftime lead.
But to start the third quarter, Calvert focused on its tempo.
“We got worried for a minute,” Smith said. “But we were like, ‘We got this. Let’s pick it back up. They’re not faster than us.’ ”
The tournament also featured a handful of the area’s top teams.
Princeton Day defeated No. 10 Georgetown Visitation, 68-67, behind 27 points from guard Essence Brown, and No. 12 Spalding nearly overcame a 20-point deficit but fell to Malcolm X Shabazz (N.J.), 75-70.
Also, Gwynn Park topped Damascus, 74-68, in overtime behind 25 points from guard Genesis Lucas, and guard Breyana Mason scored 39 points to lead No. 11 Forest Park to a 72-63 victory over St. Anthony’s (N.Y).
In the final game, Dionna Joynes had 17 points and 13 rebounds to pace host McNamara to a 61-54 win over Ursuline Academy of Delaware.