The Damascus senior quartet of captains Anna Warfield, Jenna Kauffman, Kelli Prange and Lauren Green sat on the bench with their faces buried in their black warmup shirts after the final buzzer sounded to end another season with another frustrating defeat.
Matched up with state power Milford Mill in Saturday’s Maryland 3A final at Towson, the No. 6 Swarmin’ Hornets hung tough all night but came up just short of capturing the school’s first state title. Instead, they were left to digest a 40-37 loss that capped a spirited playoff run for a group of girls who have spent the past four years chasing history.
Prange, a 6-foot-4 George Washington signee, had a four-inch height advantage in the post and used her size to score 20 points and grab 17 rebounds.
“It’s very emotional knowing that this is my last game with all them before I got off to college,” Prange said. “I just wanted to win so badly, and I left everything on the court for these girls.”
The Millers, who boasted quickness and athleticism to spare, held their own on the backboards despite Prange’s dominance. Damascus held a 45-36 rebounding advantage but spent much of the night playing catch-up.
Milford Mill jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first, forcing Damascus (25-4) to come out of its 2-3 zone and play man-to-man the rest of the night. The change of defense sparked the Swarmin’ Hornets, who led 11-8 after the opening quarter.
The half-court man kept the Millers from running a transition offense that had scorched opponents for 90-plus points in four games this season. The Millers scored just four fast-break points on the night.
“If you told me before the game they were going to score 40 points I would have been pretty happy,” Damascus Coach Steve Pisarski said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get to 40.
Milford Mill (26-1) took a two-point lead into the half after forcing the Swarmin’ Hornets into nine first-half turnovers. Damascus finished the evening with 20 turnovers for the second straight game — an unsightly total it was able to overcome in its semifinal win over Poly.
Junior Dionna White scored nine of her team-high 17 points to push the Millers’ lead to four points after three quarters.
A layup by Green with one minute remaining in the fourth made the score 36-35, but White answered with a soft floater in the lane to push the lead back to three with 34 seconds left. Green, who finished with 10 points, answered with a free throw line jumper with nine seconds left, and White hit two free throws for the final margin. Damascus advanced the ball up the court for a potential game-tying shot, but it rattled of the rim.
“We just didn’t execute plays the way we were supposed to,” Green said. “We got it up the court, but once we got up there we kind of stalled and couldn’t get into anything.”