STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTOS BY ANDY COLLIGNON
Rhonda Brown said it was unfair.
Baylor is young and its leading scorer is out with a knee injury.
The Red Raiders were no match for the defending Division II-AA champion as Brentwood Academy rolled to a 69-21 win, dominating nearly every phase of the game at BA on Friday night.
“I think most of their team is freshmen and sophomores,” said Brown, the BA coach. “We’ve been working on being consistent, no matter who we play. I thought we shared the ball really well tonight and it was a very balanced scoring attack.”
BA (12-3, 5-0 East/Middle Region) applied constant defensive pressure, making 20 steals. Baylor (8-10, 2-4) had just one and made 28 turnovers.
The Lady Eagles set the tone early, seizing a 12-0 lead. By halftime, BA built an insurmountable 47-10 advantage and it held Baylor to less than seven points in every quarter.
Maggie Brown, a 6-foot junior post, led BA with 12 points as the Lady Eagles shot 50 percent from the floor.
“Our coaches really stress defense all the time,” said Brown, no relation to Rhonda. “Like, it’s our main thing in practice that we work on.”
Baylor shot only 26 percent from the floor, hitting 9 of 34, including 1 of 12 from 3-point range. BA scored most of its points on layups, but also hit six 3-pointers and went 11 of 15 from the foul line.
Baylor’s Raegyn Conley (23 ppg) tore her meniscus two weeks ago and underwent surgery Friday morning. The sophomore will be out for four to six weeks.
“You have to try to change and then also everybody’s roles become different,”,” Baylor coach John Gibson said. “It’s like starting the season in the middle of the season if that makes sense. They took us out of a lot of things we tried to do. They sped us up, which is what pressure is supposed to do.”
BA’s attention turned quickly to Tuesday’s showdown at Ensworth (10-1, 4-0).
The region rivals have met in the past two state championship games, including Ensworth’s title in 2017.
“I think they’re definitely the team to beat in our region, so it will be a good measuring stick to see where are we on Jan. 15 because they didn’t lose anybody,” Rhonda Brown said. “I graduated six. I’m trying to figure out who we are without those six seniors.”
BA starts one senior (Avery Kovick, five assists), three juniors and one freshman.
“We’ve been thinking about that game for a while, so we’re just trying to prepare as much as we can,” Maggie Brown said of the showdown. “We know how good they are and we’ve been focusing on them a lot, so it will be fun to see what we can do and how we can play against them. But we’re really looking forward to March.”
BA has won five state titles and Ensworth is right behind the Lady Eagles with four.
Baylor hosts Father Ryan on Saturday.
Brentwood Academy visits Ensworth on Tuesday.