Some outstanding teams have been atop the Baltimore metro area girls’ basketball rankings over the last several seasons, but arguably, there hasn’t been one like the 2010-11 Archbishop Spalding High squad. The balance scoring amongst the starting five. Their collective basketball IQ is off the charts, and have the athleticism to match.

But when the game is on the line, No. 1 Spalding knows Maggie Morrison is the one. The senior guard put the IAAM A Conference championship back in the hands of the Severn School, which outlasted No. 5 Seton Keough, 53-48, before a capacity crowd at Goucher College Sunday afternoon.

Morrison led Spalding (27-2 overall) with 19 points, and Lafayette College-bound point guard Brya Freeland added 12. Rianna Frazer scored 17 points for Seton Keough (20-8), and senior forward Achiri Ade finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

For the first time since 2001, the IAAM A championship glass bowl will not reside in east Baltimore at St. Frances Academy or Seton Keough’s campus on Caton Avenue. It’s headed to back to Anne Arundel County as the Cavaliers completed a perfect run through the area’s toughest league.

“We worked so hard for this and it’s finally paid off in the end,” said Cavaliers senior post Sherae Swinson. “It says a lot to beat a team three times in a season.”

After winning a double OT thriller in Severn and pulling away in the fourth quarter for victory in west Baltimore in the regular season, Spalding appeared headed to a decisive knockout in the championship round with Seton Keough with a 14-point fourth quarter advantage Sunday. The Gators weren’t ready to surrender.

Seton Keough held the Cavaliers to a field goal through the first seven minutes of the fourth as sophomore Aaliyah Wilson’s conversion on the front end of a one-and-one brought the west Baltimore school even at 48 with 57.3 seconds remaining in regulation. Wilson missed the bonus, and Spalding junior Raven Makins grabbed the rebound and gave the ball to Morrison.

Morrison slowly brought the ball up near midcourt where Frazer was there to defend her. Morrison started dribbling to her right, cut to the left along with the dribble and slid through Ade and Liz Brown to the basket for a right-handed layup with 40.3 seconds remaining for the lead.

If you want ice cream, there’s Maggie Moos. But for Spalding, “Maggie Mo” was again the coolest customer.

“We’re confident coming down the stretch because we’ve been in games like this before. We’ve won like this, we’ve lost games like this,” said Morrison, who will play for Vanderbilt next season. “The ball just fell our way tonight.”

“She has the most confidence in her shot,” said senior teammate Shaquila Curtis. “If she’s confident, I’m confident.”

After Seton Keough timeout, Ade missed a shot in the paint and got tied up with Spalding’s Camille Calhoun for a jump ball, and the Cavaliers regained possession. Morrison was fouled and went to the line with 19.5 seconds to play.

She barely converted the first attempt as the ball hit the back of the iron, bounced up and down on the iron and into the basket. Morrison missed the second and Brown (nine points and 15 rebounds) secured the rebound and Seton Keough called timeout with 12.8 seconds remaining.

Frazer, who helped sparked the Gators’ valiant rally, missed wide on a tying three-pointer and the ball landed out of bounds. Two more free throws by Morrison with 2.2 seconds left secured the Cavaliers’ 19th consecutive victory, the longest current streak in the area.

“It was an exciting basketball game. We may not have played our A-game but they’re [Seton Keough] a big reason why,” said Spalding coach Bookie Rosemond, whose team is ranked 15th nationally by USA Today. “The girls wanted it so bad so they may have put added pressure on themselves, but they kept their composure.”

The Cavaliers amped up their defense, opening the second half with an 8-2 run for a 34-22 advantage midway in the third. When Freeland converted a three-point play for a 44-30 lead with less than a second left, Seton Keough’s hopes of a second title in three seasons were in critical condition.

The Gators showed their mettle, scoring the first eight points capped by Frazer’s running banker in the lane. After Curtis missed two free throws, Amber Singletary drove down the court for a layup closing the margin to 47-45 with 2:05 left. A basket by Ade made it 48-47 with 1:36 to play and Seton Keough regained possession seconds later after a Cavalier turnover, leading to Wilson’s tying free throw.

amber singletaryAfter slumping into the IAAM A tourney, Seton Keough rebounded to reach the title game for the third time in four seasons. Gators coach Jackie Boswell applauded the efforts of her senior class.

“We could’ve quit down 14 points but our seniors showed a lot of composure like they have all season and some heart came through in the end,” said Boswell. “I wished we had a little more time. We didn’t blink down 14, but you can’t get 14 points down against a team like this.”

With four Division I signees headlining a deep roster, Spalding carried the No. 1 mantle all season, only losing nationally-ranked St. John’s (D.C.) and New Jersey’s Shabazz. The Cavaliers’ balance and unselfishness have separated them from the rest of the metro area.

A year after losing in the finals, Spalding stands alone in the IAAM A.

“We’ve worked so hard since we were freshman,” said Morrison, whose team will officially complete its season at the Bishop Walsh Invitational in Cumberland in a couple of weeks. “This is definitely a good way to go out.”

IAAM A Conference Championship

at Goucher College

No. 1 Archbishop Spalding 53, No. 5 Seton Keough 48

Seton Keough911101848

Seton Keough: Singletary 6, Hines 2, Frazer 17, Brown 9, McCormick 2, Wilson 2. Totals: 20 5-12 48.

Spalding: Morrison 19, Curtis 8, Calhoun 3; Freeland 10, Swinson 2, Makins 4, Epps 5, Chestnut 2. Totals: 19 8-18 53.
Halftime: Spalding 26, Seton Keough 20

spalding girls basketball