Riverdale Baptist junior point guard Auteaonna Gilmore collided with an H.D. Woodson player and collapsed to the floor midway through the third quarter Saturday at Wilson. She clutched her left leg in a way that seemed like it could have been a serious injury.
Gilmore, who hurt her left ankle in Las Vegas earlier this month, had fallen on her heel but was able to walk off the injury and returned to the game minutes later. She finished with a team-high 23 points and a collective sigh of relief from the Riverdale bench.
“If we have a red Ferrari [in the back court], she’s the engine in that Ferrari,” Riverdale Coach Sam Caldwell said. “She’s to me one of the best point guards in the country.”
The fourth-ranked Crusaders needed Gilmore’s direction after falling behind by 11 points in the first half against No. 14 H.D. Woodson. Junior guard Chloe Jackson added 20 points and senior forward Maya Singleton had 18 rebounds in the 61-53 victory in front of former Riverdale Coach Diane Richardson, now an assistant at George Washington.
Even though the Crusaders travel frequently in the region and nationally, it is the local wins that often resonate the most with area girls’ basketball followers.
“Playing [in the D.C. area], it’s like we’re representing our home court,” Jackson said.
“We know we’re a big target and everybody wants to get a name off us and beat us,” Gilmore said. “We’ve got to do the same.”
Riverdale (20-3) has beaten H.D. Woodson the past three seasons, including a one-point victory last year. Caldwell would like to make it a home-and-home series for next season, and Warriors assistant Mike Gray, filling in for Coach Henry Anglin on Saturday night, concurred that his team would like to face Riverdale twice a year.
Both teams need the competition. H.D. Woodson romps through the DCIAA and independent Riverdale has trouble finding high-quality competition locally.
“There’s certainly some pride about ruling the DMV,” Caldwell said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do, so I think there is some extra pressure. I like it though. I think it’s a great challenge. I think it’s great for the area. I think it’s great for girls basketball.”
Junior guard Chania Ray, Riverdale’s second-leading scorer, did not play against H.D. Woodson for family reasons, Caldwell said.
H.D. Woodson senior forward Erin Blaine, who played at Riverdale her sophomore and junior years, led the Warriors with 20 points and 15 rebounds. In her first year at the D.C. school, the St. Francis (Pa.) recruit is the leading scorer for a program that won the City Title last year.
Blaine said she transferred because of Richardson’s departure and Riverdale losing so many seniors off last year’s team. She also had played with some H.D. Woodson players in AAU ball in previous years.
“It just wasn’t clicking any more for me,” Blaine said of remaining at Riverdale. “I knew if I came over it would be an easy transition and we’d be able to click well instantly. They liked my game. It was easy for us to get into it.”
With the highly anticipated game between No. 11 Bullis and six-time defending Independent School League AA champion Georgetown Visitation snowed out Friday, the teams now will face each other Feb. 11 at Visitation and Feb. 19 at Bullis.
Bullis (12-3) has not been at full strength all season, but junior post player Lynee Belton is rounding into form after a knee injury. She had 27 points and 11 rebounds against McNamara, a team Hairston coached during the 2009-10 season.
Senior guard Dazia Hall, perhaps the Bulldogs’ steadiest player this season, added 17 points Saturday.
Hairston, whose teams won five consecutive Maryland 4A championships at Eleanor Roosevelt, is in his first season at Bullis. One ISL AA tradition has taken some getting used to for him.
The ISL emphasizes the regular season championship moreso than the tournament. That was not the case at Eleanor Roosevelt or McNamara.
“That’s new for me,” Hairston said. “I just got that. My thing is, let’s just win them all and then there’s no questions.”