At this time last year, they were both in middle school. They had yet to even step foot on the high school stage, let alone catch a glimpse of its spotlight. So after leading the 20th-ranked Seahawks to a 47-45 overtime win over Old Mill in the Anne Arundel County championship game, neither Folks nor Taylor really knew how to react.
Folks scored nine points, including five in the final minutes of regulation. She knocked down 7 of 12 free throws, including two to tie the game with less than one minute left. When asked how it felt to win a county title, she calmly responded, “It feels really good.”
Taylor, who led South River with 10 points, was then asked about whether the moment had hit her yet.
“Not really,” she said, smiling, “but it will. I’m a freshman, so it’ll hit me.”
Neither Folks nor Taylor put up particularly eye-popping numbers in their first county championship game. But together, they did the little things to help South River (19-4) defend its county crown.
Folks did much of the dirty work, frequently battling down low with Old Mill’s taller players. Against players with three inches or more of height on her, the freshman center collected seven rebounds and forced numerous tie-ups and changes of possession.
“We always say, ‘Next one up.’ And whoever shows up, we’ll roll with it,” South River Coach Mike Zivic said. “And she showed up tonight.”
Kaneshia Afi led Old Mill (19-4) with 13 points.
Taylor was one of two Seahawks in double figures, along with junior Leah Smith (10 points). Taylor showed poise beyond her years with the ball in her hands and also was a key presence on the defensive end, as South River forced 29 turnovers — including five in overtime.
“In pressure situations, we all make mistakes,” Taylor said. “But we kept each other up so we were able to take the pressure and win the game as a team.”
Senior guard Taylor Kitzmiller scored 20 of his 28 points in the third quarter, knocking down four three-pointers as the Severna Park boys pulled away from Annapolis to win, 63-52. With the victory, Severna Park captured its first Anne Arundel County championship since 2004.
Kitzmiller also finished with nine rebounds and was an important cog in Severna Park’s zone defense, which limited Annapolis’ leading scorer, Juan Brown, to just three field goals. But it was Klitzmiller’s hot three-point shooting in a span of six minutes that made the difference for Severna Park (21-2).
“I knew if they let me shoot the outside shot, I had to make them respect it,” he said. “So I just started shooting it, it kept going in, and I just kept shooting it.”
Fellow senior Jerrell Harris added 15 points for the Falcons, who have won 14 straight and are in the midst of their first ever 20-win season. Brown, who entered the game averaging 22.9 points per game, finished with 17 for Annapolis (14-8).