catonsville, md. — Rachel Loube stepped to the free throw line with a chance to secure history.
No Calvert County high school basketball team – boys or girls – had ever won a state championship, so as No. 11 Calvert clung to a three-point lead with 27.2 seconds left in the Maryland 2A final Saturday afternoon, the junior guard knew what she needed to do.
“Free throws win ballgames, and the most important ballgame was this one,” Loube said. “I just knew I had to knock them down.”
Loube made both ends of the one-and-one, and Calvert held on to beat Middletown, 46-37, in the first of four girls’ title games held Saturday at UMBC’s RAC Arena.
Sophomore guard Alexis Smith scored a game-high 14 points, Loube had 13 points and eight rebounds, and junior forward Tiara Lester added 11 points and nine rebounds. Calvert had no seniors on its roster, and only six players saw playing time in the final.
“I’ve been coaching basketball since 1972, and it took that long to get a state championship,” Calvert Coach Frank Moore said. “So either I was a hell of a bad coach, or for this one I’m pretty damn lucky. I think I’m pretty lucky because I’ve got a heck of a team.”
Calvert (25-2) averaged more than 71 points per game this season, but Middletown (21-6) successfully slowed down the Cavaliers’ transition offense and forced them to play a half-court game they weren’t as comfortable with.
Calvert never trailed after the first quarter, but it also never made a big run to bury Middletown like it had done to so many of its opponents throughout the season.
Smith had built her 21 point-per-game season scoring average largely on transition layups, but Calvert didn’t score any fast-break points Saturday.
Middletown “made me slow down a little bit and use my teammates more than I usually do in transition,” Smith said. “If the transition wasn’t there, I would just pull it back up and we’d set up our offense.”
Calvert led 40-33 with less than 40 seconds to go, but Middletown junior forward Caitlin Roy made a layup with 37.4 seconds left and senior center Kyler Redmond made two free throws with 29.6 seconds to play after Calvert turned the ball over in its own backcourt.
Things could have unraveled, but Loube stepped up and sealed the win.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Loube said. “But I know we made history.”