TAMPA — As Academy of the Holy Names warmed up Wednesday night, everything was routine. The Jaguars had the comfort of their homecourt, and they were preparing to take on a Tampa Prep team they see every season.
But senior guard Cristina Snyder could tell this game was going to be different.
Ashley McWilliams averaged more than 20 points last season before tearing her ACL in a December 2012 tournament. Wednesday against the Terrapins the senior guard made her return.
“She’s the one that gets our offense going,” Holy Names coach Christopher Severini said.
McWilliams’ return was just the motivation Snyder needed to have a breakout game, as the 5-foot-3 guard knocked down five of the Jaguars’ seven 3-pointers and scored 26 to lead Holy Names to a 51-23 victory.
“Ashley has this thing about her where the whole team has a new attitude for the game,” Snyder said. “We have better chemistry when she’s on the court.”
From tipoff, the Jaguars (3-0, 1-0) looked in synch, connecting on passes and capitalizing on a bevy of Tampa Prep turnovers. The Terrapins didn’t score their first field goal until forward Daniella Reina made a shot with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
Tampa Prep (1-1, 0-0) went into the break trailing 29-15, but the Terrapins picked it up in the second half. They had to do so, in part, without coach Justin Smith. He was ejected with 7:41 to play after he received his second technical.
The Terrapins, who also picked up a double technical later in the half, outscored the Jaguars 8-6 in the fourth quarter. Senior point guard Isa Cura had eight of her 10 team-leading points in the second half. But by then the Jaguars had already run away with it.
Snyder spent much of her time after the game talking about what it meant to have McWilliams — who contributed seven points — back on the court.
The guard who averaged fewer than six points last season might have had her teammate’s resiliency to thank for her spark Wednesday.
But after the best game of her Holy Names career, Snyder was proud of her own accomplishment.
Now that Snyder is one of three seniors on his roster, Severini thinks previous seasons’ roles might soon change. A performance like she had Wednesday wasn’t typical for Snyder.
“I think it will be,” Severini said.