Gwynn Park junior Kemena Brooks had been waiting for a moment like this since she transferred from top-ranked McNamara several weeks ago.
In the waning moments against No. 10 River Hill, Brooks hit a key shot to give the Yellow Jackets the lead for good and sixth-ranked Gwynn Park held on to earn a 64-59 victory in the IAABO Invitational Christmas Tournament at Prince George's Community College in Largo
The Yellow Jackets will face third-ranked Riverdale Baptist today in the semifinals. The Lady Crusaders (12-4) defeated No. 7 Oxon Hill, 60-42.
"The ball in my hands -- I like that," said Brooks of her shot with 2 minutes 57 seconds left. "Several of my teammates and I played the whole game sick. We kept telling ourselves that we didn't play hard this whole game just to lose it."
River Hill (5-1) made a 13-5 run in the opening minutes of the third quarter to take a 41-33 lead. But Gwynn Park responded with a 12-4 run in which Brooks scored five points to tie the game at 45 in the closing moments of the quarter.
Freshmen center Teresa Neely's three-point play gave the Yellow Jackets a 53-50 lead. Then Neely made 4 of 5 free throws down the stretch to help seal the victory for Gwynn Park.
"When [Neely] converted on the basket and one, that was the spark we needed," said Brooks, who finished with 18 points. "She made all those free throws in key moments."
Senior forward Laura Hostetler and sophomore center Brittany Gordon led the River Hill with 14 and 18 points, respectively.
Lady Crusaders guard Shemika Jones keyed a critical 12-0 run with two three-pointers late in the third quarter to lead Riverdale Baptist into the tournament semifinals.
"She's our shooter," Riverdale Baptist Coach Diane Richardson said of Jones, who finished with 13 points. "We count on her to shoot the ball, and give us a lift."
Jones's performance was crucial as the Clippers managed to hold leading scorer Wanisha Smith to 11 points. Riverdale Baptist got a boost from another role player, sophomore forward Xenia Stewart.
Stewart scored six of her 10 points during a 18-5 run in the second quarter that allowed Riverdale Baptist to take a 28-18 lead into halftime. "She's so good," Jones said. "Whenever we're down, she comes up with points and tough defense."