“So,” one reporter joked, “when’s the parade?”
“5:15,” the players answered without a laugh.
Representing one of the smallest high schools in Montgomery County, the Falcons and their historic season had ignited a fervor in their community. Playoff games were streamed in local restaurants. Facebook pages were bombarded with well wishes. In the regional semifinals, the school had to turn away roughly 200 fans because its gym was at capacity.
On Saturday, SECU Arena had plenty of room for the black-and- gold-clad fans who made the 90-minute trip to applaud every basket like it was a game-winner.
“Of all the people in the stands today, maybe a quarter of them were parents and students,” senior center Erin Green said. “Everyone else was people from the town coming to support us. It’s crazy to think we had them all behind us.”
On the Falcons’ first possession, senior guard Madeleine Thompson got an open look from the wing. Some in the crowd half-stood in anticipation, and when the three-pointer dropped through the net, a roar followed. Two layups later, it was 7-0, and perfection seemed closer than ever.
“I told the girls going into the season that I thought we had a chance to beat every team on our schedule,” Coach Fred Swick said. “You never want to think undefeated, but I thought we had a chance.”
Playing in their first state final, the No. 4 Falcons looked to be on another level than fellow first-timer Queen Anne’s. They allowed just six field goals on the afternoon and held the Lions to eight points in the second half.
On offense, the Falcons relied on senior Kelliann Lee to control the game from the point guard position and used Green (team-high 21 points) at the high post to get easy looks at the basket. Queen Anne’s Coach Mike Kern later called the approach “unstoppable.”
With six minutes left, Swick took out his starting five, including Green and the three other seniors who had come to mean so much to this team. They huddled together, arms around each other, as they walked off the court.
“I was thinking, ‘Don’t cry,’ ” Green said of the moment. “I made the face when you’re about to cry, but I didn’t cry.”
After the game, the Falcons formed a sweaty mob on the court and later led chants in their locker room that could be heard down the hall. There seemed to be no time for tears after the perfect ending to a perfect season. After all, they had a parade to get to.