The frustration was building inside Firestone girls basketball coach Audley McGill, and he let his team know about it in a forceful, passionate way.
Despite his team holding a game-long lead, McGill called a timeout midway through the third quarter of Thursday night’s City Series showdown against Kenmore.
“Make a layup, make a foul shot, that’s all you got to do,” McGill urged his players.
After a basket by Kenmore’s Marshae Smith cut the lead to seven, Firestone (2-2, 1-0) took off on a 19-1 spurt and ran away from the visiting Cardinals for a 58-36 victory.
Every basket in the decisive run was a layup — off rebounds, steals and set plays. The first seven points were by 5-foot-10 junior Darian Carter, who led all scorers with 18 points, and her teammates gladly joined in the fun.
They also made 2-of-3 free throws the rest of the way, though that mattered little at that point.
“Work in progress is all I can say,” McGill said afterward. “We worked hard this game. We’ve got to make the layups and foul shots. That’s the easy part of it. We kind of worked on the turnovers. We’re still turning the ball over a little bit.”
The turnover problem peaked Saturday in a loss to Walsh Jesuit, and the Falcons made 27 more Thursday. And with Kenmore (2-2, 1-1) suffering through a woeful shooting night, the game lacked any kind of flow until Firestone’s late offensive outburst.
Carter, who also grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds, got scoring help from 5-9 junior Yolanda Sims, who had eight points.
“We’re starting to come together a lot,” Carter said. “We’ve just got to keep hustling and make free throws and layups. We hung in there pretty good. We’ve got to get better coming out in the third quarter.”
Attrition has led to growing pains for both teams so far, particularly for Kenmore, which lost star Porshae Hearn to graduation. The Cardinals won all 12 of last year’s league games before falling to Firestone — which lost only the two league games against Kenmore — in the City Series championship game.
“We kind of fell apart,” Kenmore coach Yontami Jones said. “Shooting was a problem. My girl [Shanon Hall] that was hot last game barely had two points. She had 28 points last game. We’ve just got a lot to work on.”
The Cardinals shot a rim-rattling 12-of-63 from the floor and 10-of-28 from the line.
Jones does see better days ahead, though.
“Porshae is a powerhouse but this team can be better as a team than we were last year,” Jones said. “But they’ve got to be disciplined and sometimes I’ve got to sit them out. And they have to play hard, very hard.”
Firestone led 18-13 after one quarter, increasing it to 29-19 at the half. Carter scored nine points and 5-6 freshman Sarah Blackwell had all seven of her points in the first half.
Smith, an energetic 5-2 junior, led Kenmore with 12 points and added seven rebounds. Sarah Taylor, a 5-3 sophomore, scored eight points, including her team’s only two 3-pointers.