Junior’s big second half rallies undefeated Gophers to 4A state girls basketball Elite Eight
by James Peters
Each time Glen Burnie High guard Amourie Porter stepped to the free throw line during the second half of Thursday’s 4A East Section I final, the partisan student section rained down chants of “MVP, MVP, MVP.”
When asked about it, Porter laughed and declined to comment, but she and everyone else who attended the contest left the Gophers gymnasium feeling the same exact way as those rowdy fans in the stands.
The junior overcame a sluggish first half, scoring all of her game-high 20 points in the final 16 minutes to propel No. 5 Glen Burnie to a hard-fought 49-39 win over seventh-ranked Old Mill and a trip to the 4A state quarterfinals.
“I wasn’t making nothing in the first half, and I was just down,” Porter said. “ I said this will be my seniors’ last game if we lost this game, so I’ve got to fight for them.”
And fight she and her teammates did, especially in the fourth quarter where Porter erupted for 15 points to single-handedly outscore the Patriots (nine) in the final eight minutes, turning around a contest marred by turnovers, aggressive defense, and some scorestable issues, including a lengthy discussion on whether Old Mill led by six or eight heading into the final quarter. It was correctly decided that the score was 33-27.
“As a team, my guards Cincear Parker and Nyjae Walker, and everyone else out there, they were just encouraging me that we’ve got this,” Porter said. “`We’ve just got to come together. We’ve got to focus together and trust in the offense.’”
Trailing 36-29 early in the fourth quarter, Porter scored eight straight points on a runner in the lane, two free throws, and a pair of layups, including one in transition on a nifty pass from Parker, to give Glen Burnie its first lead of the game at 37-36 with 5:38 left.
Parker, who kept the Gophers in striking distance with nine of her 12 points coming in the first half, pushed Glen Burnie ahead for good at 41-39 on a stick back in transition with under three minutes remaining.
Porter made three of four three throws to extend the lead to 44-39. She sealed the victory with a 3-pointer, her team’s lone triple of the contest, from the top of the arc for an eight-point advantage at the one-minute mark.
“We just stuck to our game plan,” Glen Burnie coach Sam Porter said. “We’re more than one dimension. We can play every style, and then we had our crowd behind us. It was just a matter of time. I just told them to trust and believe. `We’re not going to lose this game. ‘
“And the things that were happening, we were doing to ourselves. It was self-inflicted things. Granted, they’re a heck of a team. But we know what we have. We know what we’re about. We made a few adjustments and look at us now.”
The Gophers (21-0 overall), an afterthought for many years in Anne Arundel County, are headed to the Class 4A state Elite Eight. Glen Burnie will host either Blake from Montgomery County or Prince George’s County’s Parkdale Saturday for a spot in next week’s state semifinals.
The Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard school’s greatest season since 1983 has been highlighted with its battle with Old Mill (17-4), Anne Arundel’s flagship program for about a decade. The Gophers won the first three meetings, the last coming in the county title game two weeks ago at South River.
Round four Thursday was a defensive slugfest in the first half, resulting in a 10-10 tie after one quarter and a 22-14 Old Mill advantage at halftime. The Patriots forced 10 Glen Burnie turnovers in the first half and limited it to just four points in the second quarter while receiving at least two points from six different players in the opening half.
Both offenses improved somewhat in the third quarter with Old Mill securing the six-point lead on a fastbreak layup by Amaya Douglas at the buzzer.
Junior post Amani Watts finished with a double-double (15 points and 16 rebounds) for Old Mill, which was unable to solve Glen Burnie this season.
“We had a momentum shift and I think some calls didn’t go our way and then we had this long break (for the score discrepancy),” said Old Mill coach Henry Fuller. “That didn’t go to our advantage. I congratulate Sam Porter and his team, and I wish them well.
We had a great season. Nothing to put our heads down about. I think this is a good learning experience and we’ll be back.”
Class 4A East Region I championship
No. 5 Glen Burnie 49, No. 7 Old Mill 39
Old Mill – Amani Watts 15, Nekyla Nkele-Mbai 8, Amaya Douglas 7, NyAsia Futrell 3, Nevaeh Brown 3, Saniya Hymes 3. Totals: 14 9-17 39.
Glen Burnie – Cincear Parker 12, Nyjae Wallace 3, Aichatta Soumaoro 4, Layla Washington 8, Amourie Porter 20, Lania Nick 2. Totals: 19 10-23 49.