If Rock Creek Christian Coach Lafayette Dublin wanted to see how far his team had come this season, here was the perfect opportunity. Months after assembling the Eagles’ roster, piecing together players and hoping they would mesh, Dublin and his team trailed National Christian late in their final game of the season — the Capital Beltway League championship game.
“I told them ‘Now is where everything matters,’ ” Dublin said. “‘You’re only as good as your last game. They always remember your last game,‘ so I asked them how they wanted to be remembered.”
Rock Creek will be remembered as 2019 champion, after outscoring National Christian by 13 points in the fourth quarter to earn a 59-52 victory. It was a gratifying moment for Dublin, who took over the program and inherited a mostly empty roster after former coach Chris Cole left for a college job.
“I don’t think many people outside of ourselves — the coaching staff and the 12 guys in the locker room — felt like we legitimately had a shot to finish off the season like this,” Dublin said.
Thursday’s victory in the title game was the Eagles’ third win over National Christian this season. They entered the four-team CBAA playoffs after finishing as runner-up in the Maryland Private School Championship. After losing to DeMatha by 27 in that title game, the team had to turn around and start a new bracket the next day.
“I kept reiterating that they should remember how they felt that night,” Dublin said. “We can’t lose twice like that.”
The CBAA title also serves as a warning for the rest of area heading into next season, as Rock Creek will not lose many key pieces to graduation. Junior guard Delonnie Hunt and sophomore Guy Fauntleroy, both of whom made first team all-conference, are among the young and talented players returning.
“I’m looking forward to next year. The chemistry is finally starting to click,” Dublin said. “It took all season, but I’m really proud of what they did.”
— Michael Errigo
Bethesda-Chevy Chase girls make surprise semifinals run
After clinching the Maryland 4A West girls’ regional title for the second consecutive year, Bethesda-Chevy Chase players gathered around midcourt and bounced in joy. Though B-CC Coach Ryan Ingalls couldn’t join them because she uses a scooter to get around after a leg injury, she knew her time to celebrate would come.
Since the playoffs began, a tradition has started for the Barons. After each win, Ingalls scoots herself into the locker room, where players shower her with water. Saturday’s win marked her fourth shower.
“It’s become a little celebration tradition with our playoff run,” Ingalls said.
With Saturday’s 50-33 win over Clarksburg, B-CC will have a chance to continue the tradition in the state semifinals Thursday at Towson. Though the Barons (18-8) didn’t have their strongest showing in the regular season, they’ve dominated in the playoffs. They blew out Clarksburg, Whitman and Kennedy by a combined 83 points. Even in their one-point overtime win against Churchill, the Barons led by double digits.
“We focused more on our defense. That’s been the message that we’ve sent them.” Ingalls said. “It’s worked to our favor so far in the playoffs.”
B-CC will face Old Mill, which won the 4A East region after capturing their fourth straight Anne Arundel County title. That game will be at 5 p.m. Thursday, with the winner playing for a state title Saturday against C.H. Flowers or Western.
— David J. Kim
Bladensburg boys can’t recapture last year’s late magic
Last season, Bladensburg made its first Maryland 4A championship game appearance in 39 years after an improbable playoff run. Three months after falling to Perry Hall in the final, the Mustangs graduated nine seniors, including their top six leading scorers.
With this season’s final roster full of junior varsity players from last year and one senior, Bladensburg lost in the second round of the playoffs last week.
“You had to calm them down,” Coach Antonio Williams said. “They want to repeat and you want to have that mind-set, but you want them to understand it’s a process.”
Bladensburg (7-17), which finished last year’s regular season below .500, upset Eleanor Roosevelt by a point in last season’s Maryland 4A South regional final before beating Old Mill in the semifinals. Eleanor Roosevelt coasted to the regional championship this season.
Williams said he enjoyed working with a young squad, allowing him to reconsider his system and serve as a teacher.
In the locker room after Bladensburg’s playoff loss to DuVal, all Mustangs players could talk about was training together this offseason. Next year, Bladensburg expects to return its top six leading scorers, five of whom will be seniors.
“They were able to come right in and be thrown into the fire,” Williams said. “They’re just young, energized, ready to get after it and learn.”
— Kyle Melnick
Chantilly girls’ youth carried it to the regional semifinals
Although Chantilly’s coach said there were some things he wish they’d done differently, this year was a big step forward for the program.
After finishing fourth in the Concorde District and falling in the first round of the district tournament last season, the Chargers (11-12) reached the regional semifinals this season, falling to eventual regional champion Madison.
“It’s exciting for us because we showed we could do it, and we grew as a team and group,” Coach Kurt Sporkmann said. “But you reflect and wonder if one or two things had gone different … it’s not disappointing, it’s positive and something to grow on, but at the same time, you wonder, ‘What if?’ ”
Four of Chantilly’s five starters were sophomores, but they did have experience from last season, when they had to fill in for injured players.
Sophomore forward Meghan O’Brien led the Chargers statistically, averaging roughly 17 points and 13 rebounds, while sophomore guard Megan Baxter led the Chargers logistically.
“[Baxter] runs the team, executes out on the floor and makes sure players are where they’re supposed to be. She makes sure the timing of things are correct and she coaches people on the floor,” Sporkmann said. “When she has that voice, confidence happens on any team and it builds confidence.”
— Sammi Silber