MPSSAA Girls Basketball State Championships
Glenelg won the 3A state championship in a thriller against Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, triumphing by a final score of 48-36.
"This was our goal to start the year off, and I am so proud of my seniors and the team," head coach Chris Beil said. "I'm lost for words right now."
Jess Foster led the way for the Gladiators with 17 points, including an impressive eight for eight effort from the free throw line. Chelsea Heneggler also had a strong game, chipping in 12 points.
The Gladiators' defense kept Poly in check early, not allowing the Engineers to score a field goal until Deierra Weems scored with 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
"As a coaching staff, we were torn on what to open up in. Our favorite press that we have been doing is our press four to our base defense," Beil said. "All the advice I got in the world is do what you're good at."
Poly's offense sprung to life early in the second quarter, with two quick buckets scored by freshman duo Gianni Jones and Janya Lilly.
Glenelg responded though, extending its lead to 20-11 with 2:10 left in the half. It was a team effort in the first half for Glenelg, as seven different players got on the score sheet, with Heneggler leading all scorers with six.
Like the second quarter, Poly came out firing on offense, scoring the first six points of the half to cut Glenelg's lead to 23-20 with 6:00 left in the fourth quarter. Poly kept up the pressure, with Tylea Galloway hitting a big three with one minute left in the third quarter to make it tied at 29.
Poly took its first lead of the game, 31-29, on the first possession of the fourth quarter when Jewell Porter scored on a nice inside move. Despite the comeback by Poly, Glenelg didn't get rattled.
"We all have faith in each other. If we just keep doing what we're doing, we'll eventually start making our shots, getting rebounds and just take away the game," Miranda Mattis said.
Heneggler responded for Glenelg with two baskets to retake the lead at 33-31 with 5:35 left in the fourth.
Porter pulled Poly even after being found wide open after a nice pass by Khepera Stokes. Poly wouldn't score until the game was well in hand for the Gladiators with 11 seconds left, as Glenelg's defense began to clamp down on the Engineer attack as it had in the first quarter.
Foster, the smallest player on the court for either team at 5-foot-4, had the defining moment during the defensive run, taking a crucial charge.
"It was a high point in the game, it put a good seal on the game I would said," Foster said.
On offense for Glenelg, Foster hit two free throws and then a running baseline jump shot to make it 37-33 Glenelg. Kellie Johnson added to the lead picked up a loose ball and scored on a layup to give Glenelg a 39-34 lead with 1:26 left in the game.
In a repeat of last year's 1A state championship, Forestville topped Southern Garrett, winning 71-40. It's the second straight championship for the Knights, who finished the season 26-2.
"Bottom line, these kids worked hard. My team worked hard," head coach James Washington. "They deserve this moment, they stepped up to the plate and took care of business."
Tysia Moore put together an excellent performance for the Knights, scoring 19 points and hauling in eight rebounds. Forestville had three other players score in double digits- Anissa Rivera (15), Taleah Washington (13) and Carrie Gross (10).
"This is my last high school game so I wanted to leave with a bang," Moore said. "I'm very excited that we got another ring."
Forestville's pressure defense got to work early, creating a couple steals for Moore, as well as Anissa Rivera. With the defense smothering the Rams early, Forestville was able to build a 13-5 lead heading into the second quarter.
Forestville upped the pressure in the second quarter, forcing more Southern Garrett turnovers. The turnovers turned into a lot of fast break situations, where the Knights were able to convert layups to get easy points. Southern Garrett had more success, scoring 11 points in the second period, but Forestville's speed and athleticism helped extend its lead to 33-16 at the half.
Southern Garrett improved in the third quarter, with the gutsy play of Lauren Francillon standing out. The lack of Moore due to foul trouble aided the Rams, who outscored Forestville during that frame 16-10, cutting Forestville's lead to 44-32 heading into the fourth quarter.
Southern Garrett couldn't complete the comeback however, as Forestville's defense once again took over in the fourth quarter, smothering the Rams' chances at winning their first state championship since 2014.
Forestville has had to play in unique circumstances this season because the school is closing at the end of this academic year. To give the school one last state championship is a dream ending for both the players, as well as the coaches.
"I'm an alumni of Forestville, I bleed black and silver. I love this school," Washington said. "To know that we left some history behind, I feel better with that. I feel better going out on a positive note and saying that we're leaving this legacy behind."
Whitman got out to a fast start and never looked back, topping Western from Baltimore City 69-55 to win the 4A state championship.
"It's really how I think public school basketball should be," head coach Peter Kenah said. "They live in a five mile radius, there's no transfers or anything like that. They're just kids and they love each other."
Abby Meyers led the way for Whitman, scoring 21 points, while Hannah Niles also had a strong game with 18 points. Abby and her sisters Olivia and Emily combined to score 36 of Whitman's points.
Whitman dominated the first quarter, hitting three quick three-pointers early in the contest. The Vikings held a 23-9 advantage after the first quarter. The quarter was punctuated by a buzzer beater shot by Abby Meyers to give Whitman even more momentum heading into the second quarter.
"I had the open shot, I was feeling it in the beginning. I threw it up there and it went in," Abby Meyers said.
Western would chip away at the Vikings' lead however, outscoring Whitman 11-6 in the second quarter to trail 29-20 at half.
In the third quarter, Western continued to slow down Whitman's offense, starting the half off by forcing a couple Vikings turnovers. Western struggled to convert however, only scoring three points in the opening minutes of the second half.
Whitman remained poised throughout the second half, never letting Western inch too close on the scoreboard. That poise can be credited to the team's experience of having played at Towson University in the state tournament last year.
"We had so much confidence going into this game," Niles said. "We weren't satisfied with Thursday's win, we came into it knowing that we could beat Western."
Whitman's defense, along with the performances of Abby Meyers and Niles, proved to be the key for the Vikings. Whitman held Western to 31.6% shooting, as well as just three point shots converted.
With the game well within hand, Kenah began to pull his starters off the court so the Vikings' substitutes could get the experience of playing in a state championship. It was the perfect ending to an excellent season for Whitman.
"The dream as a coach is to hug your best players and win a state title so it was a dream come true and a special moment that I will always remember," Kenah said.
Largo, which trailed for much of the game, came from behind to beat Williamsport 59-58 to capture the MPSSAA 2A girls basketball state championship.
The Lions overcame a frustrating first half in which they committed 19 fouls, turned the ball over 12 times and shot just 21.2% from the floor. As a result, the Lions entered the second half trailing 36-22.
"At halftime we just assured them that they've been here before. They've had games where they've down and fought back to win," head coach Ayana Ball-Ward said. "At halftime we just assured them that the game wasn't over and that there was still 16 minutes left to play."
Chance Graham led the Lions with 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Stephanie Guihon chipped in 15 points.
"We've been working at this since we were freshmen and now we're seniors graduating with a state championship, a regional banner, a state banner and we have rings so it's just an amazing feeling," Graham said.
Williamsport shot a total of 42 free throws, making 31 of them. The Wildcats were led by Olivia Coleman, who finished the game with 19 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks. Williamsport had an excellent first half, shooting 80% from behind the arc, and sinking 24 of 30 free throw attempts.
"That where most of their points were coming from, so we just had to keep them off the line," Ball-Ward said.
The Lions aggressive style on defense eventually paid dividends, as Williamsport got tired as the game wore on. Largo routinely forced turnovers by implementing a full court press.
When the press didn't force turnovers, it still forced Williamsport to play at a much faster pace than the first half.
"We realized that as far as them bringing the ball up the court with pressure, they probably couldn't handle it," Ball-Ward said. "I knew I had enough people on my bench who weren't in foul trouble that I could rotate offense defense and maybe we could get a change.
This is the third state championship for girls basketball in Largo's history. Ball-Ward played on the team which won the first one in 1997. She also coached the Lions to their second one in 2007.
|March 13th, 2016||By: Wick Eisenberg|