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  • Brooke Worrell had 29 points to help the Cougars get past Northeast, 65-61.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    Brooke Worrell had 29 points to help the Cougars get past Northeast, 65-61.

Chesapeake Girls Survive Northeast On Senior Night; Eagles Show Growth In Near-Upset

Colin Murphy
View Bio
February 13, 2018

With senior-night posters hanging and a festive atmosphere already underway, the Chesapeake girls basketball team probably would have preferred their February 9 home game against Northeast to be a cruise-control blowout, or at least a comfortable win to kick off a Friday night of rivalry basketball.

Instead, the Cougars had to sweat it out against the upstart Eagles, as the Northeast girls displayed the program’s growth in an admirable upset bid that ultimately came up just a little bit short.

Brooke Worrell’s game-high 29 points helped the Cougars (16-5) stave off the Eagles for a 65-61 victory.

It was the seventh straight win for a Chesapeake team perhaps not fully expecting such a robust effort from their nearby rivals.

“It’s a rivalry game, the energy is high, the intensity is high, and [Northeast] played well,” said head coach Maria Gray.

PHOTO GALLERY: Chesapeake vs. Northeast girls basketball, 2.9.18

Worrell added six rebounds and two blocks, while Haley Downin (10 points, six rebounds, two steals), Summer Smith (eight points, 10 rebounds, six assists, four steals), Corinne Castle (five points and eight rebounds) and Morgan LeCompte (six points) all contributed to the Cougars’ win.

Chesapeake could hardly be faulted for underestimating an Eagles team they routed 77-22 just a month earlier on January 5, especially since the Cougars were still riding high from one of the program’s biggest victories ever on February 2. On that night, Worrell’s 26-point, 13-rebound performance led the Cougars to a 57-45 win over Old Mill. Downin had 11 points and eight rebounds; Smith totaled up eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals; and Ashley Chew scored eight points to help Chesapeake hand the perennially powerful Patriots their first regular-season county loss since 2014, a stretch of 58 games.

Worrell eclipsed the 1,500-point mark for her career in the game and became Chesapeake’s all-time leading scorer.

“Against Old Mill, we showed what we’re capable of doing,” said Gray. “We just said, ‘Go out there and give it all you got. You’ve got nothing to lose,’ and they played from tipoff to the final buzzer. The defense was tremendous, everybody was boxing out—we got 30 defensive rebounds. In the transition game, we were looking for each other, we were making steals, and we just put it all together. It was a memorable night. We had some girls in the stands who had played for the program, and they had tears in their eyes, because they know how far we’ve come, the beatings we’ve taken against Old Mill. So it was our time, and it felt good.”

With playoffs fast approaching, the Cougars got a good lesson from Northeast: No one can be overlooked.

“You can’t underestimate momentum, you can’t underestimate the energy, the drive [of opponents],” said Gray.

At 16-9 overall, the Cougars’ third straight season with at least 16 wins, the team still has confidence it can make a run in the 3A East.

“We just hope that we’re peaking at the right time and we can carry that into the playoffs,” said Gray.

Northeast Girls Are On The Rise

It was not without great effort that the Cougars got off the court with a win on February 9. Northeast kept the game close throughout, raining 3’s, pushing the pace, attacking at every opportunity and playing with confidence.

Freshman Mackenzie Coburn led the Eagles with 17 points, including three 3-pointers, along with four steals and three assists. Point guard Allyson Wills tallied a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists to go with five steals and three rebounds. Junior Ryleigh Nalley caught fire in the fourth quarter when Northeast tried to rally ahead, hitting three 3’s in the period and finishing with 13 points and two assists. Laura Skorobatsch had eight points, Tori Collins had seven and Carrie Hartzell chipped in with a made 3-pointer.

The momentum seemed to pulse throughout the game as Northeast answered every Chesapeake action with a big play. In the second quarter, made 3-pointers by Hartzell and Collins preceded a driving layup by Wills, who was fouled on the play and sank the free throw. Coburn drove in for a layup just before halftime to tie the game at 31-31.

Northeast was able to tie the game at 35-35 and 40-40 in the third quarter before a 7-0 run by the Cougars capped by a Downin steal and pass to Worrell for a fast-break finish made it 47-40 before the end of the period.

Northeast never fell behind by more than eight points the rest of the way, right up until Nalley’s stretch of three 3’s to close the game.

The Eagles were out of time, but they had given Chesapeake just about all it could handle. The loss kept the Eagles from celebrating outright, but they were able to appreciate the outcome and put their performance in context.

“I just think we were more confident,” said Nalley. “We were confident in ourselves and each other. Sometimes, when we make a mistake, we get down on each other. Today, we were just picking each other up. It was just awesome.”

Redirecting a program that has taken its lumps in recent seasons is a daunting task, but the Eagles have finally reaped some reward for their hard work with quality results this year.

On January 30, the team came from behind to beat Southern, 63-55, after trailing 47-40 entering the fourth quarter. Coburn led the team with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Nalley had 17 points and six assists; Collins had 10 points and seven rebounds; Wills had seven points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals, Alyssa Borgert had five points and three rebounds; and Samantha Emrich and Sara Leyland each chipped in a basket.

The team also notched a 61-38 win over Annapolis on January 17 behind Wills’ 16-point night and contributions from Caroline Makarovich (four points) and Sabrina Benge (five rebounds). Back in December the Eagles scored a 68-66 win in overtime over Glen Burnie behind big games by Coburn (16 points, 11 rebounds, three steals, two blocks), Nalley (16 points and three steals), Wills (13 points, six rebounds) and Collins (10 points, five rebounds).

Head coach Mike Parker said the team has worked hard to put themselves in a position to compete.

“We’re starting to believe in everybody,” he said. “In the beginning of the season, we started slow, and we had about five or six games where we lost by four or five points, and we kind of got down on ourselves. Lately, we’ve been picking it up and pushing harder at practice, making sure the people coming up are pushing us even harder. We’re growing.”

Noting the overtime win over Glen Burnie, Collins said the team has shown improved cohesion.

“We really have the chemistry this year,” said Collins. “In years past, that hasn’t always been there, but this is definitely my favorite team in four years, and I love them.”

In the 3A East, a playoff matchup with Chesapeake is a very real possibility, and the narrow loss is a confidence-booster for the Eagles.

“We know we can be play with them now,” said Nalley. “We just have to keep working hard in practice.”

Collins, a veteran of battles with Chesapeake as a member of the varsity volleyball, basketball and softball teams, said a rematch with the Cougars is what the Eagles want.

“We have the talent,” she said. “We’re going to be ready.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Chesapeake vs. Northeast girls basketball, 2.9.18

Game Notes:

Chesapeake and Northeast have demonstrated great sportsmanship on many occasions, and February 9 was no exception. At tipoff, Northeast graciously allowed Chesapeake senior Mackenzie Bortle—sidelined since November with a knee injury—to receive the first possession and go up for an uncontested layup, giving her two points on her senior night.

The Cougars let Skorobatsch dribble down court for a layup to tie the game at 2-2, then played the rest of the game from there.  

The Cougars thanked the Eagles on Twitter, saying, “A big thank you to @NortheastESport for showing exceptional sportsmanship on our Senior Night! @Ches_Athletics Senior Mackenzie Bortle went down with a season ending injury in Nov but had her moment to shine Fri night w/ a ceremonial opening basket!”

Northeast responded: “The best rivalry with the best community..  we are all in this together. #DenaStrong”

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