Sandler moved into position in time, drew an offensive foul and stopped No. 20 Westlake on a crucial possession late in Thursday’s Maryland 3A semifinal at UMBC’s RAC Arena. Then in the final seconds of the game, the No. 18 Hawks hit three of four free throws to hold off the Wolverines in a 59-54 win.
River Hill (22-4), which advanced to its second title game in four years, will play Aberdeen on Saturday at 8 p.m.
Asked if she knew she had drawn an offensive foul, Sandler said, laughing: “Oh I knew. I was like, ‘If that’s not a charge, I’ll be so angry.’ ”
In a game in which neither team was ahead by more than five points, the Hawks led 52-48 with 1 minute 45 seconds left. The Wolverines trimmed it to 55-54 with 23 seconds left on a three pointer by senior guard Alyssa Fort.
With 13.9 seconds left, sophomore guard Jenna Collins hit one of two free throws to give River Hill a 56-54 lead, setting the stage for the defensive heroics of Sandler, who finished with a season-high nine points, including two free throws with 2.1 seconds left, and 16 important minutes off the bench.
“I know my role is to give a spark and usually to give the starters a rest and I try to do that the best I can,” she said.
●ABERDEEN 80, FREDERICK 50: Senior guard Lauren Tolson finished with a team-high 20 points, but the Cadets’ bid for a repeat Maryland 3A title came up short against the Eagles (26-1) in a rematch of last season’s title game.
Frederick pushed the tempo on Aberdeen a year ago in a 76-71 win that clinched its first state title. This time around, the No. 10 Cadets (20-6) never found the rhythm to challenge the Baltimore Sun’s top-ranked team. They turned the ball over 10 times in the first quarter alone and struggled to match up with junior center Brionna Jones.
Despite facing consistent double-teams , the Eagles’ 6-foot-3 force in the middle posted 25 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.
“I just know that we’ve got to work harder to get ready for next year,” said junior forward India Dotson, one of two returning starters from last season’s game. “There’s a possibility that we’d see them again, and we know what to expect now.”