Expectations around the league weren’t very high coming into this season for the Glenelg Country boys basketball team as it made the leap from the MIAA B into the A Conference.
After all, it was just three years ago that the program moved up from the C Conference. But after earning the top seed in the B division playoffs each of the last two years and winning the title last season, the Dragons knew they belonged.
Glenelg Country proved that point on Wednesday night after beating Calvert Hall, 63-56, in a MIAA A Conference quarterfinals game in Ellicott City.
“Coming into the season, nobody even expected us to make it into the playoffs,” said Dragons forward Warren Powers. “To make it to the playoffs and then to beat a team like Calvert Hall, with all their prestige, means a lot to us and our school. We’re trying to put our school on the map.”
Powers scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to pace Glenelg Country (17-11), who will visit top-seeded Mount St. Joseph on Friday night in the semifinals round. Guard Kevin Boyd added 12 and Chancellor Barnard had 10.
Senior forward Denzel Richardson finished with a game-high 27 points while Julian Davis contributed 12 for the Cardinals (12-16).
“This was a great win for the program,” Boyd said. “We got our first A Conference playoff victory here in this school. We’re feeling proud and happy about our team but we have to continue to work hard.”
Last season, Glenelg Country coach Kevin Quinlan had a laminated photo of a mountain and a Dragon logo marching to the apex as his team advanced through the playoffs. This season, playing against the top teams in the league has been motivation enough.
“I haven’t used any [motivational tools],” Quinlan said. “The motivation is how intense the season has been. It’s just about going one step at a time in our minds. There is no figurative mountain or anything like that, but we just want to keep playing.”
After a back-and-forth first half in which the teams traded scores, Glenelg came out quickly in the third quarter. Powers and Amon Jones each hit a 3-pointer and Boyd had a layup during an 8-0 run that gave the Dragons their largest lead of the game, 38-25.
“I thought that we played great as a team,” Powers said. “Coach was talking about us playing unified and I think that we really came together, especially in the third quarter run when we were up by four and turned it into thirteen.”
Powers added a bucket inside and two free throws during a 7-0 stretch to open the fourth quarter as Glenelg pushed its lead to 47-31 with just under five minutes left.
Richardson ended the Dragons’ spurt with the first of his three fourth quarter 3-pointers. He accounted for 14 points for Calvert Hall over the final 4 minutes, 40 seconds.
Justin Beck, Drew Edwards and Denny Grace each added a 3-pointer for the Cardinals in the closing minutes of the period but they could never climb back in because Glenelg was strong at the free throw line down the stretch.
Barnard scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, going 10-for-12 from the foul line. As a team, the Dragons made 19-of-28 free throw attempts in the quarter to hold off Calvert Hall.
“We just played too tentative,” Calvert Hall coach John Bauersfeld said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well, didn’t finish layups or make free throws. [Glenelg Country] played well defensively and we just didn’t match their intensity the way that we needed to.”
Glenelg Country is looking to make another statement on Friday night at Mount St. Joseph in what is the program’s biggest game to date. The winner will advance to Sunday’s championship held at UMBC.
“We’re excited for the game on Friday,” Quinlan said. “Mount St. Joe is a well-coached, very tough team. They have a few future Division I guys and we’ve had two good battles with them this season. We’re going to get in the gym tomorrow and set our sights on them.”
MIAA A Conference Quarterfinals
Glenelg Country 63, Calvert Hall 56
Davis 12, Grace 3, Richardson 27, Beck 6, Evans 2. Totals 21 5-14 56.
Barnard 10, Boyd 12, Davis 2, Jones 8, Jove-Vives 7, Moune 2, Powers 22 .Totals 15 21-33 63.