TOWSON, Md. — Poolesville center Erin Green caught the ball just inside the foul line, her back to the basket. Gwynn Park had been playing aggressive defense in the paint all afternoon in the 2A girls’ semifinal and Green’s defender pressed up against her.
Without even a glance over her shoulder, the senior spun around and whipped a pass to the left block. Teammate Allie Haddaway had made a backdoor cut, and the timing was perfect. She met the ball at the spot and scored.
The reason Green knew her teammate would be there was the same reason the No. 4 Falcons barely took any time in the locker room at the halftime break of Friday’s semifinal: They know their system and they’re confident they can make it work. And why not feel that way? Poolesville has yet to lose a game this season.
On Friday afternoon at Towson University, the Falcons used that system to beat Gwynn Park, 61-49, and punch their ticket to the first state championship in team history.
“We’ve been playing together for so long,” guard Kellian Lee said. “It got a little rough there, but we’re still making jokes and having fun and feeling comfortable.”
While the Falcons (26-0) did lead for the entirety of the semifinal game, Gwynn Park gave them more of a challenge than most teams. Poolesville won every one of their regular season games by double digits. Same goes for two of their three playoff games thus far. The one exception, a 60-58 win over Middletown in the regional semifinals, prepared the team for the two moments when Gwynn Park cut the lead down to three.
“People thought we wouldn’t be able to compete as well because we’ve been crushing all these teams and we didn’t have any competition,” Green said. “But I really feel that Middletown game proved we deserve to be here.”
Gwynn Park (20-5) didn’t score their first points until there was 1:42 remaining in the first quarter. Yellow Jackets star Denai Bowman was kept in check by Poolesville’s defense, finishing with nine points on 3 of 17 shooting. Senior forward Jenae Dublin picked up the slack, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. For the Falcons, Lee led the way with 23 points.
Employing a disciplined offense and a textbook, three-quarter-court press, the Falcons withstood all of Gwynn Park’s final run and extended their lead to double digits in the fourth quarter. With fewer than 24 hours between Friday’s final buzzer and the tip of Saturday’s championship game, the Falcons celebrated for a few seconds at midcourt and then headed to the locker room for a brief talk and some ice.
Oakland Mills falls to Queen Anne’s
In the second Maryland 2A semifinal, Queen Anne’s took down Oakland Mills, 57-47, and will play Poolesville in Saturday’s championship. The Scorpions, led this season by a trio of double-digit scorers, couldn’t put a scoring run together and shot 21 percent from the field.
Junior forward Aislynn Riggs led the team with 17 points. She is one of four juniors on a roster that doesn’t have a senior.
“We came this far without any seniors. I’m happy we’re not going to lose any pieces. All we can do is get better,” Riggs said.