It wasn’t until his second player fouled out with 50 seconds remaining that Surrattsville girls’ basketball Coach Cornell Wade noticed the score in Clinton, Md., Tuesday night. Even then, the first-year coach shrugged it off, headed up the handshake line and told the opposing coach, ‘Good game.’ Wade was proud of his team.
“Our girls played hard,” Wade said. “They definitely left everything on the floor. They were just a better basketball team.”
Suitland prevailed in the Prince George’s County matchup by a final score of 120-7.
Rams forward Tynisha Clark led all scorers with 17 points. Eleven teammates joined her on the score sheet, five of them in double figures.
For Surrattsville, only junior guard Princess Campbell registered a bucket, and she accounted for all of the Hornets’ scoring.
It wasn’t the first time Suitland (6-1) hit triple digits this season — the Rams beat Fairmont Heights, 101-22, in their season opener last month — and it might not be the last.
Eyebrow-raising score lines like Tuesday’s are hardly uncommon in Prince George’s County, where the talent disparity between high school girls’ basketball teams ranks among the largest in the Washington area. Still, Tuesday’s result turned heads. The Rams’ point total was the highest by any team in The Post’s coverage area so far this season. Only three scores reported to The Post this season include a girls’ team cracking 100 points — and two of them feature Suitland.
In 2003, the National Federation of State High School Associations’ basketball rules committee gave states the ability to create rules that would allow the clock to run without interruption (except for coaches’ timeouts) if the lead reached a certain number at a specific point in a game. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association has not implemented this rule at the state level, and the organization’s assistant director, Jason Bursick, said Wednesday that the state allows counties to implement their own running clock rule.
When reached for comment, Prince George’s County Athletic Director Earl Hawkins cited Maryland’s lack of statewide mercy rule, and said counties must follow the state rule. Several Prince George’s County coaches reached for this story said the county did have a running clock rule in the past, but that practice dissolved in the last few years. Multiple coaches said they have since convened with the opposing coach at halftime of a blowout and opted to finish the game with a running clock that stops only with timeouts.
Wade broached that option with referees at halftime Tuesday, he said, but they weren’t sure about the rule and decided against risking some kind of penalty for starting a running clock.
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Tuesday’s final tally was the result of a confluence of factors working against Surrattsville, whose projected enrollment in September was 1,364 students smaller than that of Suitland.
Surrattsville, a 1A school, entered the game with only seven players, five of them freshman. The Hornets’ starting point guard was held out of the game, and the lack of an experienced ballhandler proved their undoing.
Suitland, which competes in 4A, is an up-tempo team that employs a frenetic full-court press. The Rams had been idle for two-weeks over winter break and were ready to run after a series of practices focused on defense and conditioning.
Suitland Coach Keith Lynch started rotating his players three minutes into the game. All 12 checked into the first half. A junior varsity player ended up playing two quarters. No matter who entered the game, though, Surrattsville’s problem remained: They couldn’t get the ball up the court. They trailed 63-1 at halftime.
“The score isn’t really a concern,” Wade said. “You just tell them to keep chopping at the wood, keep grinding and do better than you did the first half. And we did.”
Lynch’s halftime message wasn’t much different.
“We want to work on our execution,” Lynch said. “Work on getting better, work on making good passes, work on playing better defense.”
With a tough stretch ahead that includes games against fellow Maryland 4A South region contenders Wise and Parkdale, Lynch needed to keep his team’s focus intact.
“If you tell the reserves to do things that aren’t our concepts and principles and what we do, then how can they get better?” he said.
Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Delton Fuller, whose Raiders have won two of the last three Maryland 4A state titles, understands that logic. When the Raiders get up by a massive margin against an overmatched team, he usually falls back into a 2-3 zone, or warns his players about punishment in practice if they don’t pass at least five times per possession. But he knows it’s not always easy to dial back the pressure.
“If your team is geared toward pressing, it’s hard to get the girls out of that mind-set,” Fuller said. “You also don’t want to disrespect the game either and start playing sloppy because you still want to work on things the next day.”
Others in Prince George’s said in similar situations, coaches have an obligation to intervene.
“We’re all here to compete, but at some point you’ve got to draw the line somewhere,” one said.
“I mean at some point you just can’t shoot the basketball if it’s just that lopsided,” said another.
“We’re going to utilize that 30-second shot clock to see if we can swing the basketball,” another coach said.
For Wade and the Hornets, more lopsided results are likely coming, but he expects his team to continue to compete until the final whistle, regardless of the score.
“There’s no hard feelings,” Wade said. “Everybody understands the situation, and as long as they play hard I’m satisfied.”