Rashaud Nixon coveted a state championship from the moment he first made the Oxon Hill varsity boys' basketball team three years ago. His chance finally came Saturday night in the Maryland 4A final.
Nixon and the Clippers had been one of the area's winningest programs over the past three seasons -- they had victories in 66 of 72 games before the state final against Magruder. But it wasn't until the final buzzer sounded at Comcast Center, punctuating Oxon Hill's 50-40 victory, that Nixon could enjoy a season-ending victory.
"For three years, I've worked for this day, and that's to win a state championship," said Nixon, a senior guard who scored three points in his final game and finished the season averaging 11.6 points per game. "This was a perfect ending. We won the state championship, and we made school history, too."
Oxon Hill (22-3) became the first team in school history to win the Prince George's 4A League regular season title, the 4A South Region tournament and state championship in the same season.
"As a team, you want to be remembered, and this team made school history, so I think it has got to be considered as one of the best teams we've ever had here at Oxon Hill," said Oxon Hill Coach Billy Lanier, whose team finished the season by winning 16 of its final 17 games. "So, yes. I think this team will be remembered."
The Clippers had been eliminated in the 4A South Region final in each of the two previous seasons, but they never trailed in the final quarter during this year's postseason. They held Magruder (22-4) in check for nearly nine minutes in the second half, and Nixon and his teammates took control of the game.
"Ever since I got here, the strength of our team has always been our defense -- that never changed," Nixon said. "I thought our defense was a big reason we won the championship."
Boone Lifts Gwynn Park
Gwynn Park junior Kristen Boone visited two doctors Friday and limped out of both offices on a severely sprained right ankle with the same instructions: Don't play.
Disobeying the doctors, she iced the ankle, received electrolysis to the ailing joint and hobbled out later that night to practice some defensive drills.
The next day, she hobbled onto the court at UMBC's RAC Arena and put on a show as No. 2 Gwynn Park defeated Milford Mill, 46-39, for its second straight Maryland 3A championship.
"She is extraordinary," said teammate and friend Markeya Watson. "She plays so hard and her being hurt, she just sucked it up and played with heart."
When Boone sprained her ankle in a semifinal win over Urbana on Thursday and played less than four minutes, Watson knew her friend and teammate on the AAU Capitol Comets would play Saturday. She wasn't going to miss a chance at playing in a championship game.
"The doctors said not to play on it. I said no," Boone said. "I had to. This is the championship."
What nobody among the Yellow Jackets -- Watson, Boone or Coach Marvin Vann -- knew was how effective Boone would be. Despite the swollen ankle, Boone pestered the Millers, making 12 steals and scoring 11 points in the win.
"I really didn't know she was going to play," Vann said. "She stayed off it [Friday] to rehab, elevated it, had a lot of ice, and she went to two different doctors, and both said she would have to tolerate the pain. . . . It was amazing what she did. She can change the complexion of a game in and of herself."
Young Sparks Friendly
Maybe it was Friendly junior center Sam Young making his first six shots en route to an 11-for-13 performance that helped him finish with a game-high 27 points. Or it might have been Young's stellar defense, especially his block of 6-foot-6 forward Jonathan Pease's slam dunk with less than three minute to play that stopped the Braves from pulling within four points.
If there was a highlight to symbolize Friendly's 66-57 victory over Chopticon in the Maryland 3A final on Saturday, the chances were it involved the 6-6, 195-pound Young.
"If something needed to be done out there, Sam did it," Friendly Coach Gerald Moore said. "There was no way he was going to let someone come into the lane -- his house on both ends of the court -- and stop him from doing whatever he wanted to do."
Though it seemed Young did whatever he pleased against Chopticon, he would be the last one to admit it. To Young, this game was never about him, just like the best season in Friendly's history was never about one player -- no matter what the statistics read.
"One player does not win a championship," said Young, who averaged 21.4 points in the five postseason games. "We're the champs because we have a whole team."
Friendly (25-1) was the area's only undefeated team on the court -- the Patriots' lone blemish on their record came via forfeit after holding an illegal practice during the holiday break. Friendly finished with a school-best 25 wins, including eight against teams that were ranked during the season. Only four games were decided by fewer than 10 points, and the Patriots' average margin of victory was 22.8 points.
"If we didn't win the championship, then everything we did to this point wouldn't have meant anything," Young said. "I'm just happy I could help my team win the state championship."