TOWSON, Md. — The C.H. Flowers Jaguars formed a circle in front of their bench with one dancer in the middle. Minutes earlier, they had beaten Old Mill, 57-42, in the Maryland 4A girls’ basketball championship game, and now they threw their bodies around in a joyous blur of motion. Arms, legs and heads snapped to a simple beat.
“C-H-F! C-H-F! C-H-F!” players, coaches and fans at SECU Arena screamed.
It had been the Jaguars’ willingness to throw their bodies around all afternoon — their eagerness to generate points, steals, rebounds and turnovers with relentless physicality — that earned them the first state title in program history.
“Our biggest attribute is effort,” Coach Rod Hairston said. “One through 13, they come with everything they have, every single game. . . . That is the staple of our program.”
Using a trapping press, the No. 11 Jaguars (25-2) forced 29 turnovers and outscored the Patriots 23-5 in points off turnovers. They drew 24 fouls and lived at the free throw line, especially in a slow first half. They finished with 31 attempts from the line and had more offensive rebounds (23) than defensive rebounds (19).
“This was the last game of the season, so we had nothing to lose,” junior guard Kaniyah Harris said. “We’ve been working out since August. Six o’clock in the morning, running on the track. We let that sink in. We didn’t put in that work for nothing.”
The No. 13 Patriots (22-5) led by nine in the first half, but the Jaguars’ chaotic style slowly took over the game. After scoring 16 of her team’s 24 points in the first half, Old Mill star Sydney Faulcon picked up her fourth foul two minutes into the second half and was relegated to the bench. She did not score again.
Harris led Flowers with 23 points, serving as a consistent source of offense through the game’s ups and downs. Jasmine Hilton and Indira Nzerue each added 13.
The Jaguars entered Saturday’s title game on a 16-game winning streak, with their last loss coming Jan. 8. They scored just 17 points in a loss to Good Counsel about two weeks before that, a disheartening performance that kick-started their turnaround.
“It was the moment of truth,” Hairston said. “It was the moment of, ‘We are not that good.’ We humbled ourselves.”
On Saturday, more than two months later, Harris dribbled out the clock in the state championship game and was mobbed by her teammates at the final horn.
“When the [buzzer] went off, I had tears,” Hilton said. “I was crying. Not sad tears of course — happy tears . . . knowing how much work we went through to get here.”