No. 13 Penguins upend Mount de Sales for IAAM B basketball championship; Armstrong and Russell lead charge (VIDEO/PHOTOS HERE!!)
Having gone through what she called the “trials and tribulations” of losing to Mount de Sales Academy in the previous two IAAM B Conference semifinals, Institute of Notre Dame’s Ja’Lyn Armstrong could finally breathe a sigh of relief after the Penguins’ sweet revenge in the league final at Stevenson University on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s an amazing, ecstatic feeling,” said the talented senior do-it-all guard, whose steadying influence on the IND program during her four-year tenure at the east Baltimore all-girls Catholic school cannot be overstated. “I’m not even sure I’ll believe it until I wake up Wednesday morning.”
The hard-fought 62-55 triumph could not have been achieved without Armstrong contributing 20 points and a ton of leadership down the stretch as the No. 13 Penguins (17-6 overall) held off the 20th-ranked Sailors’ final rally.
That said, it was a newcomer, sophomore guard Eniya Russell, who took over the IND offense after Mount de Sales (17-8) spurted ahead on some serious long-range shooting by junior wing Rachel Krug, who drained three jumpers from behind the three-point arc to help her team to a 40-35 advantage with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter.
“If you leave them open, they can knock them down,” said IND coach Robert DuBose, alluding to the Sailors’ potent perimeter game.
Mount de Sales coach Trish Armstrong — no relation to Ja’Lyn Armstong — said that the long ball is a big part of the Sailors’ game.
“Rachel can really shoot,” she said. “We have a lot of other girls who can shoot, too.”
After Ja’Lyn Armstrong swished a pair of free throws to cut into the Sailors’ lead, Russell went on a scoring spree that began with a slithering drive as time expired in the third quarter and continued in the final period on a drive, a stick-back, a pirouette in the paint and another layup while IND popped back on top, 47-44.
After Mount de Sales junior guard Maura Devine converted a pair of free throws, Russell found junior guard La’Shyra Williams open in the lane for another bucket that restored a three-point margin.
DuBose said that Russell’s jammed thumb, that had been taped, had held her back on the offensive end until she decided to take off the binding.
“She tore that tape off,” said DuBose, whose team won its first IAAM championship. “She said, ‘I’ve got to go.’ “
IND sophomore guard Grace Taylor made her presence felt by hitting a clutch shot in the paint before senior forward Sydney Skalstad buried two more from the line to keep the Sailors close, but still behind, 51-48.
Taylor’s timing was spot-on during the next IND possession when she launched another three-ball from side that swished through the net to bump the lead back to 54-48.
“Grace has always been a contributor,” Ja’Lyn Armstrong said. “It’s great that she had the confidence to take that shot.”
The breathing room Taylor provided was cut ultimately cut in half when Devine sank another three-pointer with 42 seconds to go, proving that the Sailors were not going away without a fight.
Ja’Lyn Armstrong then took over like the seasoned performer she is, hitting two free throws and finishing a fast break for the final margin of victory.
“Ja’Lyn’s always been our double-double girl,” DuBose said. “As a four-year starter, she has done a lot of great things for us.”
IAAM B Conference basketball championship
at Stevenson University
No. 13 Institute of Notre Dame 62, No. 20 Mount de Sales Academy 55
Mount de Sales – Berlin 8, Devin 10, Krug 12, Kuhn 3, Sy. Sklastad 11, Stewart 3, Zaranski 8. Totals 14 18-28 55.
IND – Russell 23, Armstrong 20, DuBose 3, Tarylor 8, Williams 8. Totals 25 9-14 62.
MOUNT DE SALES 15 11 14 15 — 55
IND 17 10 12 23 — 62