2014-15 IAAM C Conference basketball champions Garrison Forest School
On the back of McDonogh School’s girls’ basketball team’s warmup tops is the slogan, “Don’t ring the bell.” It’s said, during intense and grueling Navy Seals training, ringing the bell means one’s quit.
The proverbial bell was about to be runged on McDonogh’s title reign Sunday evening. But the Eagles showed again Houdini got nothing on them.
The No. 1 Eagles won their second consecutive IAAM A Conference championship with a 59-52 overtime victory over second-ranked Roland Park Country School in front of nearly 1,500 at Stevenson University.
Annapolis Area Christian School won the B title with a 57-51 decision over St. Timothy’s School. The C crown belongs to Garrison Forest School after a 36-18 victory over Mount Carmel.
Unselfishness has defined Garrison Forest School. It was on full display in the Grizzlies’ biggest game of the season Sunday.
The duo of junior guard Maria Molina and sophomore Marina Lazarides led the offensive attack for Garrison Forest (19-1 overall) with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Tae Edmondson finished with a game-high 15 points for Mount Carmel (16-7).
The Grizzlies led wire-to-wire, capturing their first IAAM basketball crown. The Owings Mills school also completed a perfect run through the C league.
“The main thing about our team is that nobody cares who gets the credit,” Garrison Forest Nick Burns said. “I have been coaching for 30 years and I have never seen a team like this. They are best friends on and off the court and all they do is smile and play hard. It is amazing to watch.”
“This is amazing, we definitely built up our team over the past few years and this is definitely a lot of fun to win with everybody this year,” Lazarides said.
Garrison Forest scored the game’s first 10 points and led 17-5 at halftime. The Grizzlies sliced Mount Carmel’s offense with excellent ball movement.
“Our offense is a lot of quick passing and we all like to share it and being able to find the open person,” Lazarides said.
Garrison Forest’s lead shrunk no fewer than 11 points the rest of the way. Allie Gibbons (five points), Samatha Fielder (three) Jillian Quartner (two) and senior Aliyah Smith (two) scored for the Grizzlies.
“We don’t have one or two players who have to score for us,” Burns said. “We share the ball and take shot when it is available, not matter who it is.”
Despite being denied the program’s first title since 2006, Mount Carmel coach Robb Bonner was proud of his team. The Baltimore County school won two games last season.
“To come from where we were a season ago, to where we are now is incredible,” said Bonner. “We went from worst to first in our division and we had someone step up throughout the season and I could be more proud of the effort the girls showed.”
Garrison Forest’s lone loss came against St. Timothy’s School, which played in the B finals Sunday. The Grizzlies won their final 15 decisions.
“This is such amazing feeling,” Molina said.. “Just have your teammates and classmates celebrate with you is so great. It is hard to describe.”
IAAM C Conference championship
Garrison Forest School 36, Mount Carmel 18
Mount Carmel – Edmondson 15, Williams 3. Totals 6 3-5 18.
Garrison Forest – Lazarides 13, Molina 11, Gibbons 5, Fielder 3, Quartner 2, Smith 2. Totals 10 13-19 36.
Mount Carmel 0 5 5 8 – 18
Garrison Forest 7 10 14 5 – 36
2014-15 IAAM B Conference basketball champions Annapolis Area Christian School
As the final seconds ticked in Sunday’s IAAM B Conference championship game, there was Taylor Murray standing alone with the ball. It was only fitting.
The senior concluded her brilliant varsity career with a second championship as Annapolis Area Christian pulled away from St. Timothy’s. The McDonald’s All-American posted a double-double with 31 points and 13 rebounds.
After being double-teamed in the first half, Murray broke loose in the second half, scoring 26 points. The University of Kentucky recruit said she was prepared for the extra attention.
“We had a feeling that the double team would come, so I just told my teammates when they doubled me that it was their job to take the open shots,” Murray said.
Leading 26-21 at halftime, AACS (24-3 overall) got a Whitney Vandenheuvel’s score off an offensive rebound and Murray sliced her way into lane for a jumper in the paint for a 30-21 advantage. But St. Timothy’s answered with five straight from sophomore Jessica Berman, cutting the lead down to 30-26.
Then Murray found her groove. The 5-foot-8 guard scored eight points during 10-0 run with fast break layups as she simply glided to rim with ease, finishing the quarter scoring 15 of AACS 19 points in the third frame.
“I was just being more aggressive and looking for my shot more than what I did in the first half,” Murray said. “Once I looked for my shot more, it just opened the floor up for my teammates.”
Murray easily weaved her way out and around St. Timothy’s double team attempts. The Eagles opened up their largest cushion, 19 points, with six minutes left in regulation.
“The first time we saw a double team like that in the semi-final against so we practiced for that with a 7-on-5 to better prepareourselves,” AACS coach Victor Watson said. “She (Murray) is a special player and it will be really hard to replace someone like her.”
Jordyn Hursh (six points), one of nine seniors on the Eagle roster, gave AACS a 13-12 advantage in the first quarter. The Odenton school got layups from Victoria Dix and Murray close the quarter.
The Eagles had a nine-point cushion in the second quarter after a three-pointer from Jenai Molden and a fast break layup by Murray. St. Timothy’s, in its first season in the B after back-to-back C title runs, got to within 26-21 at halftime.
But like many B teams this season, St. Timothy’s had no answers for Murray.
“We just ran into a buzz saw today,” said St. Timothy’s coach Mike Buchanan. “We knew Taylor [Murray] was going to hit her stride and she may be the best player in the state of Maryland.”
IAAM B Conference championship
Annapolis Area Christian School 57, St. Timothy’s School 41
St. Timothy’s – Kunaniec 12, McLaughlin 8, Dayton 9, Bacon 4, Berman 5, Spartana 3. Totals 11 13-18 41.
Annapolis Area Christian – Murray 31, Hursh 6, Baden 7, Wiley 2, Molden 3, Dix 4, Vandenheuvel 4. Totals 22 8-9 57.
St. Timothy’s 13 8 7 13 – 41
Annapolis Area 17 9 19 12 – 57
2014-15 IAAM A Conference basketball champions McDonogh School
Of the huge audience who watched Roland Park and McDonogh engaged in an epic hardwood war through 39 minutes and 59.9 seconds, no one probably wanted to be Kolbi Greene at the end of regulation.
And there was no one more ready for the moment than Greene. The McDonogh sophomore converted three free throws with 0.1 seconds left in regulation, sending the contest in an extra session where the Eagles completed another improbable rally in their penultimate game of the season.
Senior forward Dajah Logan scored a game-high 18 points for McDonogh (25-3) and Danielle Edwards added 15 points. Jaia Alexander led Roland Park (21-5) with 17 points.
The Eagles overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit, claiming their third title in four seasons. The Owings Mills school is the first to go back-to-back in the area’s toughest league since St. Frances’ six-year run from 2003 to 2008.
Greene was in grade school then, but was already playing basketball on the AAU level. She was hardly phased by the moment Sunday, dropping all three attempts through the net.
“I don’t like getting the crowd energy in my ear, it psyches me out,” said Greene, “so I just kept calm and composed.”
“She played probably over 120 AAU games over the last couple of years, so she has the experience,” said Eagles coach Brad Rees.
Greene, part of the future for McDonogh, put it in position Sunday. Logan and Edwards, the veteran rocks, closed the deal. Logan, a College of Charleston recruit, opened the extra period with two free throws.
After a Roland Park miss, Logan drove the baseline and finished, extending the Eagles’ advantage to 54-50 with 3:04 left in overtime. Edwards, who’s headed to Clemson, made it 55-50 with a free throw after a Reds turnover.
Roland Park got on the board as Lindsey Edwards hit a short runner with 1:58 remaining, but Logan came right back, attacking the baseline and was fouled at the basket. She converted the first free throw, putting McDonogh up 56-52 with 1:13 to play.
Logan missed the second, but won the battle for a loose ball. Taleah Dixon made it 57-52 with a free throw with 42.1 seconds left.
Dixon, a freshman and another bright part of McDonogh’s future, got the ball back with a steal, and Danielle Edwards was fouled. She added two free throws, putting McDonogh in control, 59-52 with 23.1 seconds to play.
“This is one of those teams that just works hard all time and we love each other and have so much trust in each other,” said Logan. “We knew we were going to get the W.”
Victory appeared dicey for McDonogh as Roland Park, looking to avenge last season’s title game loss, pulled out to a 44-34 lead with 7:13 remaining in regulation after a jumper from Jeydah Johnson. McDonogh answered with a three-pointer from Dixon.
Dixon got a bounce for another trifecta from the left side. The Reds missed on the other end, and Danielle Edwards hit a three-pointer from the top of the arch, giving McDonogh the lead back, 45-44, with 5:01 left in regulation.
“Don’t go down without a fight,” said Danielle Edwards.
The Reds did that, tying the game on Michala Clay’s free throw with 3:53 left. Danielle Edwards got the lead back for McDonogh with a jumper in the lane, but Alexander answered, putting an off-balanced shot off the glass with 1:17 remaining, tying the game at 47.
Alexander broke the tie with a free throw with 22.2 seconds left. After timeouts by each teams, Green and Dixon missed jumpers for McDonogh and Roland Park gained possession on the alternating jump ball with 5.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
Clay was fouled with two seconds left and converted two free throws for a 50-47 advantage. After each team used a timeout, Dixon threw the inbound pass down court and Ryan Holder outleaped Logan for possession, but came down on the sideline.
After the court was cleared of Roland Park fans who ran onto the floor, thinking the Reds had their first league title, the game referees put 1.2 seconds on the clock and McDonogh inbounds the ball past midcourt. Dixon bounced a pass in the left corner for Greene, who was fouled.
With the championship in the balance, Greene made the biggest free throws of her career.
“Kolbi live for those moments,” said Danielle Edwards. “She was ready for them. I’m sure she was nervous, anybody would’ve been nervous.”
But the stotic Greene showed the steely resolve of a veteran. She said she wanted to help to send her senior teammates Edwards, Logan and Jameria Johnson out with another championship.
“Since the start of the season, they wanted this,” said Green. “They were crying after we lost to St. Frances and Roland Park the first time and I felt bad for them. I wanted to win for them.”
It was another bitter defeat for Roland Park, which was two seconds away from the championship. The Reds were unable to hold a nine-point second half lead in last year’s finals.
“You have to play to the buzzer,” Roland Park coach Scott Buckley said. “Anything can happen. We played well, but it’s unfortunate how it ended. They made some big shots. When (Greene) stepped to the line, we were preparing for overtime.”
McDonogh, in its fourth straight league finals, answered the bell. In 2012, the Eagles overcame a 21-point deficit to win their first IAAM championship. Edwards, Johnson and Logan were freshmen.
Sunday, the trio collected their 103rd victory.
“We’ve been through so many ups and downs with injuries and being together so much we get tired of each other,” laughed Logan. “But it’s OK because we know when it’s time to get it done we can get it done.”
IAAM A Conference championship
No. 1 McDonogh School 59, No. 2 Roland Park Country School 52
McDonogh – Logan 18, D. Edwards 15, Greene 13, Dixon 7, Jameria Johnson 6. Totals 17 19-30 52.
Roland Park Country – Alexander 17, L. Edwards 10, Clay 9, Jeydah Johnson 7, Whitehurst 5, Hauser 2, Holder 2. Totals 20 9-19 52.
McDonogh 14 10 9 17 9 – 59
Roland Park 13 9 20 8 2 – 52