TOWSON, Md. — Calvert center Daijha Thomas is expected to have plenty of outstanding moments inside Towson’s SECU Arena when she joins the Tigers next season as she begins a new phase in her basketball career.
It is coincidently where this week’s Maryland 2A state tournament is being held, where Thomas’s high school career will come to an end.
But after a decorated career that includes three consecutive 2A state titles, Thomas wasn’t ready for the final chapter Wednesday night.
She scored 29 points and added seven rebounds as Calvert escaped with a 53-50 victory over Dunbar (Balt.) to advance to Saturday’s 2A state championship.
The Cavaliers (21-4) will meet the winner of the other 2A state semifinal between Patterson Mill and Walkersville, which ended too late for this edition.
“It felt great to play on my future home floor,” said Thomas, who scored 17 points in the second half to rally her team. “I don’t want to let my team down.”
Dunbar (17-6) jumped to a 15-12 lead in the first quarter, using pinpoint three-point shooting from Nia Trusty and a swarming defensive front to deny Thomas the ball.
Calvert, which has won 43 games in two years and is arguably the most postseason-tested team in the state, didn’t find an offensive rhythm in the first half and struggled to get Thomas the ball.
“We were rushing for no reason,” Calvert Coach Timothy Contee said. “We were doing it to ourselves.”
But the 6-foot-3 Thomas was relentless in the second half. She opened the third quarter by wrestling a defensive rebound from two Dunbar forwards, then scored on back-to-back possessions to give her team 31-28 lead.
She had played on the court during her official visit last year, she said, but the lighting and background was something different for Calvert (which won last year’s title at UMBC). And Thomas was matched up against energetic freshman Mia Davis (17 points, eight rebounds), who helped force Thomas to throw away two errant passes during presses in the second half.
That pressure kept Dunbar close. But with the score tied at 43 with about four minutes remaining, Thomas stepped up. She muscled her way for a go-ahead layup and about two minutes later she knocked down a 15-footer off the glass to push the lead to five after her defender sagged off to protect the rim.
“It means everything to me,” Thomas said of the win. “To get it four years in a row I feel like is a must.”