Eleanor Roosevelt senior Daria Simmons winced as she gingerly hobbled through the handshake line after Friday’s 48-44 victory over No. 16 Bowie. The 5-foot-7 guard had crashed to the floor in the final seconds with a right calf cramp, and even a few minutes after being helped to the bench, she struggled to shake off the painful toll of her finest offensive performance of the season.
Showcasing a knack for exploding to the rim, Simmons matched her season-high with 22 points in the Prince George’s 4A showdown in Greenbelt. She accumulated all of her points on layups or at the free throw line as the 14th-ranked Raiders held off the Bulldogs to claim the top spot in the league standings.
“I just wanted to be in attack mode today,” Simmons said. “I just had to get my mind to it and focus. Usually, I’m out there [on the perimeter] looking around, but if I know what I’m doing, I can get in [the lane] and make it work.”
Simmons can generally afford to pick her spots to carry the offensive load with four Roosevelt players averaging double figure scoring; but on Friday night, the Raiders (13-0, 10-0) battled foul trouble to force her into the leading role.
Simmons made Bowie (11-2, 9-1) pay for fouling her in the paint: She converted 14 of 17 free throws. Eleanor Roosevelt did not trail thanks in large part to a stretch in the second quarter in which the home team held the Bulldogs scoreless for more than seven minutes, but the thin roster presented a challenge. Simmons and Tolu Omokore (six points, 21 rebounds) helped keep the Raiders on track in the third quarter when three starters were on the bench because of foul problems.
“We had to rely on her to do what she does best,” said senior Jazmin Faulkner, who scored nine points, including a free throw with seven seconds left that made it a two-possession lead. “All we could say was ‘Come on, Daria. We’re not in the game, so you have to take over.’ ”
Even with that surge, Eleanor Roosevelt had to survive a fourth-quarter rally to stay perfect. The Raiders led by 15 points in the third quarter and kept a double-digit edge into the final period before junior guards Marshauna Butler (17 points) and Serena Brown (13 points) each nailed a pair of three-pointers. Bowie pulled within 42-40 with 3:32 left but only converted one field goal the rest of the way.
“It feels good [to lead the league,] but that’s a target on our backs,” Simmons said, looking more spry after emerging from the locker room. “There’s a lot of teams that want to beat us and get there, too. We have to stay together and get it done.”