Gwynn Park 46,
Milford Mill 39
Gwynn Park junior Kristen Boone limped around during an afternoon shoot-around, shuffled off the team's bus when it arrived at UMBC's RAC Arena, and hobbled through warmups as her sprained right ankle throbbed in pain.
But by the time she was mobbed by teammates Markeya Watson and Kemena Brooks following the No. 2 Yellow Jackets' 46-39 Maryland 3A championship win today over Milford Mill, no one was worried about the ankle Boone hurt in a semifinal win over Urbana on Thursday.
"That was just adrenaline," Boone said. "Yesterday, I went to two doctors, and I had electrolysis on my ankle, and I tried to ice it. I practiced on it last night, tried to work on my defense a little. The doctors said not to play on it. I said no. I had to. This is the championship. I guess the adrenaline helped a little bit because I didn't feel anything during the game."
The ankle injury affected Boone's offensive production slightly -- she missed several wide-open lay-ups she normally makes -- but it hardly affected her defense.
She had 12 steals, including nine in the first half and one with 19 seconds left that helped seal Gwynn Park's second consecutive championship, surprising even herself with the performance.
"I didn't really expect to come out and do very much," Boone said. "I didn't think I would even be able to play the whole game but I was able to do it."
She not only played, but excelled, slowing a Milford Mill (22-4) team bent on ending one of the state's dubious streaks. The Millers have lost a state-record six straight state titles, including a 59-43 loss last year to Gwynn Park in the championship game, and at points tonight, the Millers gave the Yellow Jackets a game.
With Boone out with her fourth foul with 2 minutes 23 seconds left in the third quarter, Milford Mill went on 16-8 run, cutting the Yellow Jackets' lead to 40-37 with 4:55 left in the fourth quarter.
By that time, Coach Marvin Vann had inserted Boone back into the lineup, and with Boone keeping the Millers at bay on defense, the Yellow Jackets (25-1) closed the game by making four of eight free throws in the last 2:56.
"If there is a better point guard around, I would like to see it," Vann said of Boone. "She's tough. I can't say enough about her. She terrorizes you if you are an offensive ballplayer. She can strip you naked if you are in the open court."
Boone transferred to Gwynn Park from Elizabeth Seton before the season, one of many new faces for the Yellow Jackets. Brooks (14 points, 13 rebounds), a junior guard, transferred at the start of the season from McNamara, and senior forward Geri Crutchfield came from Surrattsville.
The lone returnee from the Yellow Jackets team that beat Milford Mill last year was Watson, a junior forward. She scored seven points and grabbed 13 rebounds last night, then celebrated the win by embracing Brooks and Boone, and dousing Vann with a bottle of water -- in his tweed suit and all.
"It's the same feeling as last year. All the hard work paid off," Watson said.
"This one probably means more to me though because I won it with my best friends. . . . All along, we wanted to play together."