The last time Denmark’s girls basketball team faced Region 7-4A leader Marist, the Danes struggled mightily, not able to even get into double digits on the scoreboard.
And while the Danes fell to the War Eagles a second time by a score of 67-42 on Friday, it was a vast improvement, with Denmark (7-18, 3-9 Region 7-4A) keeping the contest competitive heading into the second half.
“Last time it was a rough game,” Denmark girls coach Jaime Maxey said. “To be in an eight-point game at halftime with a team that's only lost one game this year, that's really big for us.”
Sophomore Sophie Smith led the Danes’ early surge, with two threes to narrow Marist’s edge to 11-10 with 4:04 left in the opening period. Smith continued to be aggressive from beyond the arc early and finished the first quarter with eight points.
“That's something that they're all still working on,” Maxey said. “Just like any player, when she feels like she's on, you're going to take that shot. When you're having a bad day, you're going to give the ball up. She did well tonight.”
Trailing 18-14 after one quarter, Denmark briefly continued its strong start in the second quarter behind made shots from Smith and sophomore Jessie DeNardo. But while the Danes found some success from outside and on defense, they were shut down in the paint, and late in the quarter, Marist went on a 13-1 run before DeNardo added her second 3-pointer of the frame to make it 33-25 at the break.
“Our kids committed, especially in the first half, to playing defense (and) keeping their two best players without getting the ball,” Maxey said. “(Marist’s Jamison Henley) didn't score in the second quarter at all. That's huge for them. I'm proud of them.”
In the third, though, the War Eagles finally began to distance themselves, going on a 14-0 run that included the beginning of the fourth, fed by multiple Denmark turnovers. Marist cruised to the win from there, completing an undefeated 12-0 region slate.
“We made a couple of bad passes in a row that resulted in turnovers to a layup,” Maxey said. “They're just young and that's part of learning to make the decision about what's a good shot, what's not a good shot.
“We've got to do a little bit better job as a team with our ball movement, especially in the fourth quarter there. We're getting better and that's all that matters.”