TOWSON, MD. — Everything had been going according to plan for Eleanor Roosevelt, and then Ashia McCalla fell to the hardwood after converting a layup and didn’t get up. She grabbed her left leg, a grimace stretching across her face. The ball stopped bouncing. Towson University’s SECU Arena fell silent.
The guard had scored 20 points to that point, buoying the Raiders to a double-digit lead against North Point in the Maryland 4A state semifinals Thursday. She walked off the court with her arms slung around an assistant and a trainer with about six minutes remaining, leaving a window for North Point to mount a comeback.
It never came. Eagles forward Kennedy Davis scored on the next possession to cut No. 10 North Point’s deficit to 11 points, but No. 6 Eleanor Roosevelt responded with six unanswered points. And McCalla, who said she was suffering from camps, returned to the court before the final buzzer had sounded on the Raiders’ 54-41 victory.
“Coming from last year, our [state semifinals] loss last year, that was the hungriest we’d ever been, throughout the whole season. We really wanted to get to the championship,” McCalla said. “That’s why I was very driven. I know what I can do. I just need to let everything out on the court.”
Junior guard Latavia Jackson led North Point with 18 points, but otherwise the Eagles struggled to find offense. While they took seven more shots than the Raiders, their field goal percentage was just 25.4.
The Raiders (24-3) also out-rebounded North Point (22-4) by a margin of 48-35, which helped them to a comfortable win.
There was no one blocking Caitlyn Clendenin’s path to the basket, only packs of giddy Bethesda-Chevy Chase fans smiling back at her from the bleachers behind the stanchion. The Barons’ senior finished the layup, and her classmates filled SECU Arena with chants of “You can’t guard her.”
Clendenin had scored eight consecutive points against Catonsville (21-3) to end the third quarter Thursday, giving Bethesda-Chevy Chase a two-point lead in the other Maryland 4A semifinal. But there was more basketball to play.
The Comets opened the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run during which guard Jasmine Dickey, a Delaware signee who has scored more than 2,000 points in her career, was the team’s only scorer, and soon chants of “You can’t guard her,” permeated the building once more, this time from the other end of the court.
The No. 20 Barons (19-5) could not respond and fell, 63-51, a gutting end to the longest postseason run in team history.
“We knew how good we were, and how far we’d come this year, and we really showed that in the first half,” Barons Coach Ryan Ingalls said. “In the second half, Dickey just wore on us. ... That’s just what killed us.”
After the game, Clendenin got choked up while trying to articulate her heartbreak. Senior Charlotte Lowndes turned to her teammate.
“You played a great game,” she whispered.