The Century Knights’ winning percentage continued to rise, Friday, as the Class 2A West Regional Champs notched their spot in Saturday’s MPSSAA Girls’ Basketball State Finals after a 47-20 win over the Owings Mills Eagles.
“I’m happy for the kids,” Century coach Joel Beard said. “I’ve coached for a long time and we play exceptionally hard on defense every day. I thought we did what we had to do today and that was take charge early, and offensively for the most part we play very, very well.”
Leading early and often at the Retriever Athletic Center on the campus of UMBC, the Knights stormed out to leads of six, 17 and 23 before finishing off Owings Mills with 27 points, posting the team’s first ever finals appearance.
Senior Alice Mercer led Century in scoring, putting up 11 points next to the 10-point game of Jamie Clark. Cassidy Jones scored eight points of her own, while Angela Flister boasted five.
Century allowed Owings Mills just three baskets in the first eight minutes of play, and two more in the subsequent period, dispersed amongst Briana Bull, Deara Parker and Jordyn Gaer. Prior to the game, the Knights allowed a mere 35.3 points per game, aggressively improving that stat by holding the Eagles to just 20 points.
Besides holding the Eagles to just 20 points, the Knights posted 14 steals and one block, scoring 25 points off takeaways. Flister led the team with five steals, while the lone block went to Alyssa Dixon.
“We just knew it was a state semifinal, and some of us are used to it for other sports, but this is basketball, and we knew we had to step up on defense, “Flister said. “We stepped up.”
Limping into the postseason, the Eagles donned a 9-11 record, but won their last five games to reach the state semifinals. Owings Mills started their regional play with a 57-24 win over Lake Clifton, before tight victories over Chesapeake and Loch Raven, 41-39 and 50-43, respectively.
“I’d like to thank my young ladies,” Owings Mills coach Donchez Murray said. “They gave me max effort, were fantastic the entire year and they got better with each and every day. They did an outstanding job, and I could not be more proud of them.
The Eagles were in search of their first state title in three decades, dating back to 1984; the first and only trip to the state tournament before the 2011-2012 season.
Century’s road to the Final Four came with an extensive set of wins. The Knights blew through 18 wins in their last 19 games, dropping only to Oakdale in the final game of the regular season.
Liberty, Walkersville and Poolsville were among the Knight’s regional prey, beating each by double digits before 17-point annihilation of Owings Mills.
“We were amazed to go to regionals because that was a first in Century history, but going to semis was a huge deal for us, so we got pumped up,” Haley Bordner said. “We did the same things, so I think state will be a lot more nerve-racking, but I think we can do it.”
Century now is set to face the Calvert Cavaliers in Saturday’s final game, taking place in the Retreiver Athletic Center at 1 p.m.
Patterson Mill came up short in its first trip to the MPSSAA Girls’ Basketball Final Four, falling to defending state champion Calvert on Friday, 42-31, at the Retriever Athletic Center on the campus of UMBC.
“I told the girls the first thing I said when I got in the locker room was, ‘Be Proud,’” Patterson Mill coach Joyce Jenkins said. “We have set standards here at Patterson Mill, going from three wins to where we are right now, and it is a huge accomplishment. They work hard every day, so I am very proud of them.”
The Huskies (20-6) faced a tough Cavalier defense, which forced 28 turnovers, nine steals and six blocks, as Patterson Mill fell victim to 17 turnovers in the first half and failed to ever establish a lead in the game’s four quarters.
Of the turnovers, the Cavaliers (25-1) cashed in on 23 points, and allowed the Huskies zero second-chance points.
“Put-backs, second shots hurt us a lot, and turnovers, “Jenkins said. “Those things hurt us today. They’ll learn from it, and we’ll return.”
The Huskies hung tough, however, with the reigning champs, posting seven unanswered-points to close the first half with a six-point deficit, 20-14, and trailed by as little as three in the third quarter with the three-point stylings of senior guard Lauren West.
Junior Forward Morgan Golec posted 10 of the team’s 14 points in the 16 minutes, continuing in the last two quarters with a team-high 14. Freshman forward Qalea Ismail put up nine points of her own, alongside the five-point scoring West and three-point scorer Carlee Lund.
Patterson Mill’s run to the 2012 Final Four saw a 12-game winning streak, as the Huskies had not lost since their Jan. 19 loss to the C. Milton Wright Mustangs. The two teams split on the season, each winning once, and together held the top slot in the UCBAC’s Susquehanna Division.
The Huskies had taken big strides in the five years the school has existed, working to the team’s first Class 2A East Regional title and posting a 20-6 record following a 3-18 season a year ago. Patterson Mill held just three seniors on the team’s youthful roster, including five freshmen and three sophomores.
“The past couple years have been hard. We have had good teams, but we just couldn’t put it through,” West said. “The additions to our team in Sam [Herman] and Qalea have really helped us out and made us better. This team has been the closest both on and off the court, and this has just been a great season.
“They are going to go all the way next year. I know it.”
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Century 12 15 12 8 — 47
Owings Mills 6 4 6 4 — 20
Century: Mercer 11, Clark 10, Jones 8, Flister 5, Bordner 4, Dixon 4, Nichols 3, Patten 2
Owings Mills: Bull 7, McIntosh 5, Parker 3, Gaer 2, Huttenberger 2, Forbes 1
Calvert 12 8 8 14 — 42
Patterson Mill 5 9 8 9 — 31
Calvert: Smith 13, Loube 10, Weems 7, Lester 5, Thomas 5, Collins 2.
Patterson Mill: Golec 14, Ismail 9, West 5, Lund 3.