Good teams don't always have to rely on their star players, and that was evident in the boys' and girls' Anne Arundel County basketball finals Tuesday night.
The Broadneck boys claimed their first title in 10 years with a 61-60 win over Annapolis, and the Arundel girls won their fifth straight crown with a 66-52 victory over Old Mill.
Both titles were clinched largely by role players.
For Broadneck, junior Mike Atkins scored a game-high 23 points and played all 32 minutes after beginning the season as a reserve and averaging less than eight minutes.
In the closing seconds Tuesday, senior Charles James sank a pair of free throws that increased the Bruins' lead.
"I knew I had to step up, and that's what I did," James said. "Those were big shots. I had confidence in myself, and my teammates told me to go out there and hit them. That's what I did."
Broadneck led 59-58 and had the ball with less than 30 seconds to play when Annapolis began to foul in an effort to extend the game. Annapolis had three fouls to give, however, so it took a while to get the Bruins to the foul line.
After four fouls, 23 seconds remained, and Broadneck needed two points. Coach John Williams felt comfortable with James at the free throw line under tremendous pressure.
"All game I felt as if he was the most composed person out there," Williams said. "He really seemed to be focused."
James finished with 13 points, three of which came near the start of a third-quarter run Broadneck used to take the lead after trailing by seven at halftime.
"We played defense very well and didn't allow them to penetrate," James said. "Everybody had to step up, and we just played together."
In the girls' game, freshman Sherrone Vails and junior Danielle McFadden helped Arundel take control inside with star forward Simone Egwu sidelined with an ankle injury.
Vails had 13 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks; McFadden added seven points and nine rebounds.
"Sherrone stepped up," said Arundel assistant Donna McGowan, who helped coach the team because Coach Lee Rogers was out of town tending to his sick father. "She held us up. She was an aggressive rebounder, and even if she didn't get it, she kept it alive so someone else could probably get it."
Egwu averages more than 14 points; McGowan said Egwu is expected to be out one to two weeks. She could be sidelined for part of the Maryland 3A East tournament, in which Arundel begins play next week, so it was encouraging for the Wildcats to have Vails and McFadden make bigger contributions.
"I am so proud of" McFadden, senior guard Brittany Watts said. Assistant coach Audrey Codner "is always talking about ripping. Get the rebounds and rip it down so nobody can take it from you. Danielle was doing that tonight."
The rebounding tenacity of Vails and McFadden helped prevent Old Mill from playing the fast-paced transition game it desired. The result was another championship.
"When Arundel missed shots, the big key was that they were active on the glass," Old Mill Coach Craig White said. "They were much more active on the glass than we expected."