Long after King’s Christian lost to Avalon in the Maryland Independent School Athletic League tournament in the semifinals last season, the heartbreak lingered with Andre Boykin.
“It was crushing,” Boykin said. “I cried and cried for as long as I could cry.”
Ever since, the senior had been hyper focused on one thing: winning the MISAL title.
Boykin poured in 29 points Saturday night against Grace Christian and added several key rebounds, blocks and steals to power the Eagles to a 79-71 title-game victory at Riverdale Baptist.
“All I could think about was this moment right here,” said Boykin as he held the trophy in one hand and exchanged high-fives with the other. “I was ready from the time I woke up. I just knew it. It was mine.”
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Eagles (18-1). They trailed 22-12 after the first quarter, and point guard D’Angelo Tull, who had exploded for 44 points to help King’s Christian advance to the championship, picked up three offensive fouls.
“When D’Angelo got in foul trouble, they told me I had to step up. Me and Andre had to step up,” said Dee Barnes, who scored 23 points in the game and was named league MVP afterward.
King’s Christian came storming back via a 28-point second quarter, with Boykin scoring 11 and Barnes adding eight to give the Eagles a 40-35 lead at the half.
The Eagles led by seven after the third, but Grace Christian (14-12) went on a 15-6 run, led by Josh Jones, to open the fourth and take a 68-67 lead.
Jones scored eight in the quarter and 21 in the game to lead the charge for the Knights, but the Eagles answered the surge with an 8-1 run of their own, closing out the game with Tull (17 points) and Boykin going a combined 6 for 6 from the line.
The King’s Christian girls had their hands full with a six-player Calverton squad that showed no signs of fatigue despite being undermanned in the first final of the night. The game went down to the wire, but the Eagles held on for a 45-43 victory.
Senior Olivia O’Brien, who never took a rest until fouling out with 14 seconds remaining, scored 23 for the Cougars, but the Eagles (19-7) slowed her down in the second half. Freshman guard Jalen Douglas was tasked with guarding the Cougars’ point-forward for most of the second half.
“I’ve always wanted to check [O’Brien],” Douglas said. “It helps my team a lot if I do my job, and we all had to do our jobs in order to win that game, and we did.”
The freshman, who played varsity as an eighth grader, also found herself at the free throw line in the final seconds with the game tied at 43. She sank the first of two, despite a boisterous Calverton (11-7) student section .
“They can make all the noise they want, but if I focus on the rim, that’s where I’ve got to be,” Douglas said. “It’s [all about] routine.”
Teammate Elena del Busto, who was named league MVP after the game, grabbed the rebound off the second free throw and was subsequently fouled. The senior from Spain hit one of two, and Calverton couldn’t connect before the buzzer sounded.