FAIRFAX, Va. — No. 5 Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.) trailed for most of the first half Friday against McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) when Elizabeth Balogun decided to take over.
The 6-0 senior wing scored all nine of her first-half points in the second quarter to steady the Hawks (6-0), who were coming off an overtime win at Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) the night before. She continued her strong play in the second half, putting up 22 points in a 60-47 win at the Art Turner Tipoff Classic.
Balogun, a Georgia Tech signee originally from Nigeria, said it was obvious the team was dragging after playing in a hot gym the day before.
“We have a young team, so it’s important for me to be a leader for my team and I had to start picking it up,” she said. “We were all cramping up last night and we had two girls who turned their ankles.”
What HHCA may have lacked in speed, it made up for with height as Balogun, Jazmine Massengill, a 6-1 senior wing and sophomore 6-7 post Kamilla Cardoso did a good job of hitting the open player in the lane. Massengill had 12 points and Cardoso had 19.
McDonogh (0-1) was led by senior guard Kayla Liles with 14 points.
“We just played a good, well-coached team, but we battled through the low,” Hawks coach Keisha Hunt said.
After trailing 14-10 in the first quarter, HHCA seemed to finally relax and play steadier when it took their first lead in the final minute of the first half.
“Well, it was that and I threatened not to give them their phones back for a week halfway through the second quarter,” Hunt said. “We take their phones away, especially if we play back to back like this. If we lost this game, they weren’t getting their phones back.”
Cardosa, who at times was awkward last season, has begun to settle into her game.
“She’s figured out how to use her body better,” Hunt said. “We’ve only had her for a year and a half now.”