The shot-clock buzzer sounded right before Paint Branch guard Kiara Colston shot a 20-footer from the left perimeter late in the first half of Thursday night’s Maryland 4A state semifinal against Eleanor Roosevelt, her team down by 20 points and desperately in need of a basket. The ball swished through the net, but the officials had already started to take their positions for a change of possession.
Colston just turned around and raised her hands, looking at her bench for comfort. It was that type of night for the Panthers star, who finished her stellar high school career with a 75-48 loss to the Raiders.
“That’s one of the best teams we’ve played this year,” Colston said. “I’ll give them that.”
Colston finished with 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting, and she was at her best in the second quarter when she led her team on a 10-0 run, including a deep three-pointer from the left corner that pulled the Panthers within 17-15. That prompted a quick timeout by Eleanor Roosevelt, and Paint Branch was energized behind a large fan contingent that had traveled to Towson from Montgomery County.
But the Raiders responded with a 19-3 run after that, and Paint Branch shot just 16-of-67 from the field while being outrebounded 59-39.
It was a cruel end for Colston, who was one of the area’s stars for the past three seasons. She led the Panthers to back-to-back 20 win seasons, which included a 23-3 mark this winter. Her scoring production didn’t wane from her junior to senior year, either, as Colston (18.2 ppg) scored in double figures in all but two games this season and eclipsed the 1,000 point mark for her career in January.
Colston’s skill-set is coveted at the next level, and her future options are numerous. She has offers from Lamar, Troy and Adelphi, among others, and she has garnered interest from George Washington, Georgia Tech and Niagara. She said she is expecting to make her college decision within the next month, but it was clear her college basketball future was far from her mind Thursday.
“I’m a proud Panther. I love my team and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Colston said. “This season was one of my best compared to my [previous years]. Without my teammates we wouldn’t have made it this far.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 27
Number of points scored by Westlake’s Dominic Espeleta — a career-high — in Thursday’s 4A state semifinal against defending champion Milford Mill, as the Wolverines pulled off a stunning upset at Comcast Center.
– Whitman continued its memorable run in the Maryland 4A boys’ state semifinals Thursday, using a crafty approach to upend Annapolis and reach Saturday’s title game.
– Wise also reached the 4A championship, benefiting from a bruising front line that never allowed Springbrook to get fully comfortable in a state semifinal win.
– Lauren Green was quiet in the first half, but turned it on when it really mattered for Damascus in Thursday’s 3A girls’ semifinal win over Poly.
– Westlake’s girls’ basketball team had lost just three times all season, but met its match in Milford Mill during Thursday’s 3A state semifinals at Towson.
– Post reporter Chelsea Janes takes a closer look at the role of the shot clock in area high school hoops. Does it really make a difference?
– With state tournaments in full swing, updated brackets from around the area can be found here.
PHOTOS OF THE NIGHT
WHAT TO WATCH
Boys Basketball: Henrico vs. Potomac (Va.) at VCU, 2 p.m.
The Virginia 5A state title game pits defending AAA champs Henrico against one of the area’s best in Potomac (27-1), which is led by guard Randall Haynes (17.7 ppg) and talented center Trey Porter (15.8).