Manchester Valley gets past No. 18 Westminster for 3A girls’ basketball elite eight trip; Mackenzie Dewees leads way

Mackenzie Daniels was again clutch for Manchester Valley girls’ basketball team Thursday. The senior guard, who will play Quinnipiac next season, finished with 18 points as the No. 19 Mavericks defeated 18th-ranked Westminster in the Class 3A West Region Section II playoffs.

by Donald Daniels

When Manchester Valley High girls’ basketball has needed big plays the last four years, Mackenzie Dewees often answered the call. In Thursday’s Class 3A West Region Section I final against Westminster, DeWees came through once again.

The senior point guard scored a game-high 18 points along with three assists and four rebounds to power the No. 19 Mavericks to a 49-37 win over the 18th-ranked Owls in Carroll County. Manchester Valley (21-3 overall) will host defending state champ Frederick, Saturday evening for a trip to the 3A state final four at SECU Arena next week.

Westminster won both contests against Manchester Valley, but DeWees didn’t play in the first contest due to an injury. She suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter of the second matchup and her time was limited the remainder of the game.

With DeWees, a Quinnipiac University recruit, at full strength, Manchester Valley led wire-to-wire Thursday, moving a victory away from its first state final four.

“Having being out for the first game and injured for the second, I was thrilled to get on the court tonight,” Mackenzie DeWees said. “I wanted them [Westminster] to beat Blake so that we could play them again, it was worth it in the end and I am so proud of my team and we pulled through.”

Manchester Valley opened with an 11-0 run to start the game and led, 16-6, after first quarter. The Mavericks opened up a 24-11 halftime advantage and led, 29-17, entering the fourth.

Manchester Valley delivered a blow to Westminster (20-3) with an 8-2 run to open up a 37-19 advantage. Josey Klingenberg slashed her through the Owl defense and converted two layups in the paint, then found a wide open Kassidy Johnson who drilled a three-pointer on the right side of the court, to key the surge.

Westminster didn’t go quietly, scoring seven straight answered points in under one minute and thirty seconds with Sydney Popielski and Sophia Diehl (eight points) leading the way with several jumpers just inside the 3-point line. DeWees pushed the Owls back by knocking down two free throws and a fast break layup off of a steal to protect the lead.

“We really wore Westminster down, the whole game I just keep saying we need another basket and we just keep finding a way,” Mackenzie DeWees said.

Popielski finished with a team-high 17 points for the Owls, who won the Carroll County title. Westminster won its first 18 decisions.

“I’m very proud,” Westminster coach Dave Urban said. “Starting out the year, if you would have told us we would be 20-3 I would have been like, ‘Yeah, right.’ I think it was a step forward every time they came out on the court so the progression was very noticeable.”

Saturday, Manchester Valley gets another shot at Frederick, which defeated the Mavericks, 51-35, last season. Manchester Valley will have to slow down high-scoring junior guard Makayla Daniels, who’s verbally committed to the University of Arkansas.

“I think I have thought about Frederick every night for 365 days,” said Manchester Valley coach Heather Dewees. “I feel like it us a chance for to play them again, they are a good program and a strong team. I love the fact that we are playing at home and I hope that we have learned something as a team.”

Class 3A West Region girls’ basketball playoffs

Section II final

No. 19 Manchester Valley 49, No. 18 Westminster 37

Westminster – O’Donnell 2, Roberts 4, Popielski 17, Diehl 8, Costley 4, Saltz 2.

Manchester Valley – Dewees 18, Saunders 15, Boswell 2, Resau 1, Anne Saunders 3, Amelia Saunders 15, Johnson 3, Klingenberg 6.

Westminster 6 5 6 20 – 37

Manchester Valley 16 7 6 20 – 49