Drake Goddard pushed the ball downcourt, his eyes darting between the expiring clock in the third quarter of Friday’s game at No. 19 St. Andrew’s and the pack of players racing to their spots around the basket. Up to that point, the Maret guard held the hot hand, and with the Lions on their heels, he had the space to put up a floater before the buzzer if he so desired. But with teammate Jalen Barnes open in the corner and the team-first message from several intense practices during the week on his mind, Goddard darted a pass to Barnes, who drained the open three-pointer.
The shot further sealed No. 12 Maret’s 74-46 rout of Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference foe St. Andrew’s in Potomac. It also illustrated the approach that the Frogs hope will yield more consistency during the season’s second half.
“Playing together was our focus tonight because we’ve realized that when we play as individuals, that’s when we have trouble,” said Barnes, who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Trouble surfaced in two of Maret’s last three games: The Frogs (11-6, 3-2 in MAC) lost to unranked Flint Hill and Potomac School. Sandwiched in between was a big win against conference power St. James, leading the Frogs to get back to the basics of fundamental team play during the last two days of practice.
The fruit of this renewed focus surfaced early in Friday’s game. Four Maret players scored during a 9-0 run in the first quarter, a lead the team did not relinquish.
As Barnes and Austin Vereen (13 points) used their size advantage over the Lions to attack the rim inside, Goddard (team-high 20 points) and Steffen Davis (19 points) capitalized on the open perimeter space by combing for five three-pointers.
“We’ve dropped a couple games that we felt we shouldn’t have,” Goddard said, “so we came into this game more focused than ever and ready to send our message to ourselves and other teams on how we’re capable of playing when we’re on the same page.”
St. Andrew’s (12-2, 1-2), which had won its last six games, struggled to find similar unified play. Guards Cedric McFadden (21 points) and Marcus Adkison (14 points) scored 27 of the team’s 29 points through the first 20 minutes. By then, Maret had built a double-digit lead that would only swell as the Frogs mixed sound execution in their halfcourt sets with strong finishes in transition play.
Maret now sets its sights on building off this success during a tough three-game stretch that pits the Frogs against Sidwell Friends, St. James and No. 10 Montrose Christian.
“I think this gives us a good confidence boost and got us back on track,” Davis said. “We’ve got to take every game seriously and not just think we can show up and win.”