The River Hill doubles team of senior Trevor Anderson and junior Scott Burtzlaff had been looking forward to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Tennis tournament ever since placing fourth last year.
"From the first day, their goal was to win the state championship," Coach Matt Graves said. "It was a realistic goal, too, because they are both very good, and they work well as a team. You just have to feel sad for them to see it end this way."
Anderson and Burtzlaff fell to top-seeded Jeff Luse and Dan Stahl of Whitman, 7-5, 6-2, in the state final after defeating their three previous opponents in straight sets.
"We were up 5-4 in the first set, and we should have won the first set, but I don't know what happened -- we just kind of fell apart," Anderson said. "We had our chances, and that's what makes this loss so tough."
Anderson and Burtzlaff finished the postseason 10-1, with county and Region V championships. River Hill has won only one state tennis title, by the 2000 girls' doubles team of Devon Humphries and Kristin Manglitz.
During the regular season, Burtzlaff and Anderson played at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, Burtzlaff finishing 14-3 and Anderson 17-0.
"We came in here clicking and playing the best we have all season," Burtzlaff said. "We thought we were in good shape."
Howard's mixed doubles team of freshman Allie Pecore and sophomore Matt Flick lost to Walter Johnson's Tiffany Hodges and Larry Tran in the final, 6-3, 6-1, and River Hill's mixed doubles team of juniors Matt Davidson and Katie Sheliga finished fourth.
Centennial sophomore Ryan Lissner and Wilde Lake freshman David Nguyen each lost in semifinal matches in the singles competition, then Lissner took home the third place medallion by defeating Nguyen, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-1.
Who Were Those Guys?
Wilde Lake second baseman Ryan Johnson looked up at the stands before taking the field for last week's 3A final and realized that his team had changed the perception of the sport at his school.
"All these years when we weren't good, no one really cared about baseball," the second baseman said. "But to see all of our friends and other people at our school come here to support us, we feel that we are finally part of Wilde Lake."
The Wildecats emerged as one of the postseason's biggest surprises by winning three games in the 3A East Region tournament and a state semifinal game against Bel Air. The team had posted just four wins during the regular season. Wilde Lake (8-17) lost, 9-0, in the semifinal to eventual state champion Severna Park.
"What makes being here so special is that no one expected us to get this far," junior catcher Daniel Lenschter said of the semifinal game at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
The Toughest Out
Mount Hebron senior shortstop Ashley Francis thought her softball team was in good shape when C.M. Wright was down to its final out with the bases empty and trailing by a run in the Maryland 3A semifinal at Randazzo Park in Severn last week.
"I thought we had it. I think we all did," Francis said. "But that's softball for you. It's never over until you get that last out."
C.M. Wright junior pinch hitter Kaitlyn Neal walked and was replaced by freshman pinch runner Nikki Hartner. Then freshman Allison Kucher blasted a triple to tie the game at two. Junior Katie Kolb lined a hard grounder off the shoulder of Mount Hebron's third baseman to drive in the final run in the Mustangs' 3-2 victory.
The Vikings (17-6) lost in the state semifinals for the second consecutive year. The Mustangs (21-6) advanced to the championship, where they lost to Huntingtown (22-1), 6-1.
"Those kinds of things just happen," said Mount Hebron Coach Sal Milio. "No one thought we'd get this far, so anything that happened here was a bonus."
The Vikings' loss capped a memorable postseason. Mount Hebron had allowed just two runs in three games leading up to the C.M. Wright game. The Vikings defeated fourth-ranked and previously undefeated Centennial, 2-0, in the 3A East Region final.
"It was tough for it to end this way," said sophomore pitcher Lisa Alban (17-5), who allowed eight hits and struck out three batters in the final game. "We still had a great season."