The Seneca Valley Girls basketball team defeated Northwest Friday night by a score of 53-49 for the first time since December 2014, to advance to 3-1 this season.
After not winning a single game last season, the Lady Eagles have come out of the starting gate with three wins in their first four games this season. The loss drops the Lady Jags to 2-2.
The Lady Eagles are 3-1 this season. That is more victories than the program has achieved in the last two years. The Seneca Valley girls have posted a record of 1-44 over the last two season. This year will hopefully mark a turning point.
“There is a new aura about the girls this year,” said Seneca Valley Head Coach Jennifer Hoffman. “They are being really positive this year, and are gelling really well. It is a new season; they finally said we are done with losing and have taken on a real positive aura. Some of the girls did extra work in the off-season, and they came back and said, ‘We’ve got to work harder a practice.’”
She said the seniors and leaders on the team have stepped to create a positive winning culture. “They are on each other about being late and working hard. I don’t even have to say anything. They are holding themselves accountable to their teammates. Even their teachers tell me that they can see a difference in the girls this year. It is refreshing.”
Friday’s game at Northwest was nip and tuck through three and half quarters, as the two teams traded the lead at least three times. Northwest led by two at halftime 27-25 as seven players scored in the first half. However, it was senior Khienya Benjamin’s seven first-half points which helped the Lady Jags. Benjamin would finish with 13 points, on five field goals and three free throws.
Benjamin and senior Thara Janus each had 13 points to lead the Lady Jags. Janus had four field goals, one three-pointer, and shot two-for-two from the foul line.
Seneca Valley tightened up the defense coming out of the break to hold the Jags to just seven third-quarter points, while the Lady Eagles doubled them up scoring 14 points to take a four-point lead at the end of the third quarter.
Sophomore guard Jaisa Oliver had 17 of her 23 points in the second half to help the Eagles fend off the Jags attack. Oliver made six field goals, a three-pointer, and shot eight-for-16 from the foul line to lead all scorers.
“This is one of Jasia’s better games,” said Hoffman of the transfer from Bowie. “She is a physical player, but sometimes she waits to get her jets going, but tonight she got her jets going in the first quarter. She is a new face to our program, and she is part of the new attitude this season.”
The only other Lady Eagle in double-digits was junior Jessica Jones with 16 points, on six field goals. Jones shot four-for-seven from the foul line. “I have been waiting for Jessica to blossom and turn into that player that I know that she can be. She has found her confidence and courage, said Hoffman, who added that “Confidence and Courage” has become the Lady Eagles’ motto this season.
In Friday’s game, the Jags sent the Eagles to the foul line 19 times in the game, and Seneca shot 16-for-33 or 48 percent. The Jags, on the other hand, shot just nine foul shots, making all but three.
The Lady Eagles maintained a four-point lead for most of the fourth quarter. The Jags were down by five 41 - 46 with 4:51 remaining, and the girls from Seneca Valley were able to put together a five-point run spanning 3:17 to take a 10 point lead with 1:34 remaining. Northwest was able to close the gap to the final score of 49-53 as the result of ill-advised fouls by Seneca Valley as the clock ran down.
Both teams will be back in action on Wednesday, Dec. 20 in Germantown, as they both have home games. The Jags will host 0-4 Rockville at Northwest, while the Eagles will host 2-2 Walter Johnson at Seneca Valley, both games are 7:15 pm starts.
Top: Seneca Valley sophomore Jasia Oliver (11) drives the basket. She led all scorers with 23 points in Friday’s victory over Northwest.
Next: Northwest senior Thara Janus (21) with the finger roll. She had 13 points for the Lady Jags.
Next: Seneca’s junior Jessica Jones (23) with a layup, guarded by Northwest junior Christina Photinakis (13). Jones had 16 points in Friday’s victory.
Next: Northwest senior Khienya Benjamin (4) shoots free throws. She had 13 points, on five field goals and three free throws against Seneca Valley on Friday.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.