Oliver’s good first impression lifts Skipjacks
Chesapeake tops Cecil as newcomer pours in game-high 28 points
NORTH EAST Shantrel Oliver knows how to make a good first impression.
Oliver scored a game-high 28 points Wednesday night in her first game as a Skipjack, sparking Chesapeake College in a 73-56 women’s basketball victory over host Cecil College. She scored 23 of her points in the second half as the Skipjacks put 45 points on the board to break open a critical league contest.
"I was very nervous it was my first game and I didn’t want to let the team down," said Oliver, whose 3-pointer on her first shot started an early 10-2 run that put the Skipjacks ahead to stay. "They (her teammates) made me feel really comfortable, which helped out a lot."
"Believe it or not, in warm-ups she didn’t make any of her shots," said Chesapeake head coach Damon Nichols of Oliver, a transfer from Indiana University of Pennsylvania who sat out the fall semester while regaining her eligibility. "Once the game started, she lit it up. On any given night, she can give me 20 or 30 points."
Chesapeake, which had a 28-23 halftime lead, improved to 11-1 overall and 5-1 in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference. The Skipjacks moved past Cecil (6-5, 5-2) and stayed one game behind unbeaten conference leaders Prince George’s Community College and Montgomery College/Rockville.
"It was a pretty big game," said Nichols. "We came down here last year and we were down 20 points in about the first five minutes. I reminded the sophomores what happened the last time we came here and they said it wasn’t going to happen this time."
Denver Clyde scored 14 points off the bench and Ashleigh Jones (eight assists, seven rebounds) added 10 points for the Skipjacks, who also received seven points from Rose Smith and six each from Jen Carr and Emon Heath. Heath, a little-used reserve earlier in the season, made all three of her shots in significant time off the bench.
"The more I get in, the more comfortable I feel," said Heath. "I was surprised I hit my first shot. Once I hit my second shot, I knew I had it going."
"Emon can be a real factor. She has a soft touch as a post player," Nichols said. "I’m confident she can hit that 15-footer on any given night."
Chesapeake only trailed once, on a trey by Brianna Thomas (team-high 19 points) that gave Cecil an early 3-2 lead. The Skipjacks then took off on their 10-2 run, started by Oliver’s 3-pointer and including a pair of jumpers from Jones, to quickly grab a 12-5 advantage.
Chesapeake’s next run was a 6-0 spurt, starting and ending on Carr jumpers, as the Skipjacks took their first double-digit lead at 24-13.
The Seahawks got back in the game as Shantia White scored all six of her points consecutively to pull Cecil within 24-19. Oliver and Clyde each hit baskets to extend Chesapeake’s lead to seven points, but Shanice Smith (13 points) and Iesha Butler answered with hoops as the Seahawks kept their halftime deficit to five points.
Chesapeake opened the second half with a 15-4 run. Jones and Oliver sandwiched jumpers around two Smith free throws as the Skipjacks scored the first six points of the second half. Oliver had two more hoops later in the surge, including a transition layup that capped the run and gave Chesapeake a 43-27 cushion.
Cecil was still hanging around until Oliver scored eight straight Skipjack points as part of a 10-2 run that gave Chesapeake a 55-40 lead. The Skipjacks closed out the win by making their final 10 free throws six by Oliver after the Seahawks began fouling to stop the clock.
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