No. 10 Patriots slip past South River for Anne Arundel girls’ basketball title; Faulcon and Valentine post double-doubles (VIDEO HERE!!)

by Derek Toney

Old Mill High girls’ basketball is like a box of chocolates. Patriots coach Rick Smith doesn’t know what kind of performance he’s going to get each game.

After a sluggish first half, No. 10 Old Mill found its groove as well as another Anne Arundel County championship Wednesday. The Patriots defeated 11th-ranked South River, 53-42, for the crown on John Brady Court at Annapolis.

Junior center Sydney Faulcon had 21 points and 18 rebounds for Old Mill (19-4 overall), and Jasmine Valentine added a double-double: 10 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Kathleen Sullivan led South River (20-3) with 14 points.

The Patriots pulled away in the final eight minutes, claiming their fourth consecutive league title. The Millersville school is again the undeniable ruler of Anne Arundel basketball, as its boys’ squad captured its second straight championship Tuesday evening.

The Patriots’ latest girls’ crown was authored by their punishing inside game with Faulcon, 6-foot-2, and Valentine (5-11).

Smith said it sometimes take awhile to figure out what works.

“We were younger this year, so you never know what’s going to happen on any given night,” said Smith. “Believe it or not, and you can ask them [players] how many times I can say we have to get the ball inside. We have a few people who like to shoot.”

Trailing 29-26 late in the third, Old Mill got an offensive rebound and score from Valentine, who closed the period with another score off an offensive grab, giving her squad a 33-31 advantage. The Patriots scored the first seven in the fourth as Valentine got the rebound off a missed one-and-one, and converted one of two free throws for a 40-31 lead with 5:53 left in regulation.

Valentine, a sophomore transfer from Arundel, is part of a talented and deep bench.

“My four or five players I bring off the bench could be starting for any team around,” said Smith.

South River cut the lead to 40-35, but Mikiyah Mallett’s rebound and score off Faulcon’s missed free throw, followed with a drive to the basket, put Old Mill firmly in command at 45-35 with 2:50 remaining in regulation. Mallett, a sophomore, scored seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter, and finished with six rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots.

Tied at 14 after an error-filled first half, the third quarter was much cleaner with seven lead changes and five ties through the first five minutes. The Seahawks had a 29-26 advantage after Sullivan dropped a short baseline jumper.

“Their skill level is close to ours and they play really hard just like we do,” said Faulcon. “Sometimes we find it harder to play teams who are really good, so we just need to take our time on the court and not rush anything.”

South River coach Mike Zivic, whose team lost to Old Mill (64-58) in Millersville during the regular season, said his squad missed a lot of shots Wednesday.

It was compounded as the Patriots imposed their will in the paint in the second half.

“When my point guard fouled out, that took us out of a rhythm. We came down and hit shots but they were able to hit shots. It’s just hard to press them,” said Zivic, whose team other loss came against No. 5 and Howard County co-champ Howard. “Once they beat it, their bigs are there and they just drop it off for a layup…They just wear on you.”

The squads are hoping for a third meeting in the Class 4A East Region final. Old Mill is the top-seed in Section I and South River is No. 1 in Section II.

Smith, whose team lost to Severna Park in the region semifinal (Section I final) is excited about his team’s ceiling.

“I come off the bench with three sophomores and two juniors ,” said Smith, who started five underclassmen Wednesday. “I think going forward, with the way we’ve been playing, we’re going to be OK.”

Anne Arundel County girls’ basketball championship

at Annapolis

No. 10 Old Mill 53, No. 11 South River 42

South River – Sullivan 14, Palmer 10, Burrows 9, Zinkl 2, Herndon 1, Plummer 6. Totals 17 5-13 42.

Old Mill – Parker 6, Mallett 9, Galloway 2, White 3, Valentine 10, Faulcon 21. Totals 20 13-21 53.

South River 8 6 17 11 – 42

Old Mill 6 8 19 20 – 53