In the same way that I love and root for underdog teams, I always like to witness a big comeback, be it a team negating a large deficit to earn a victory, or, on a larger scale, a team that is able to leave a painful loss behind and redeem itself. The latter I witnessed on Saturday night, as the Aberdeen Eagles, who I'm sure were still able to taste last year's 76-71 3A girls basketball title-game loss to Frederick, cruised to a 62-48 win over River Hill in the 2012 3A championship matchup. I'll admit it's tough to categorize a group that goes 48-3 over a two-season span as a "comeback team," but it's easy to feel snake-bitten when you've watched a state crown slip away after coming so close to winning it, and Aberdeen was as close to locking it down last year as any team I've covered during my time at The Aegis (I'd rank them alongside the 2008 Harford Tech and C. Milton Wright baseball squads, which were an inning away from respective state title wins on the same day, but wound up losing by one run). In any case, well done Eagles. Here's a by-the-numbers look at Aberdeen's 3A championship victory:
Attendance: The stat sheet I was handed at the end of Saturday's game has a blank space in front of the "attendance," section, but a quick scan tells me that UMBC's Retriever Center seats 4,024, and every single one of those seats was accounted for, so let's go with 4,024. Also, every spot at the press table was occupied, and I was only able to secure a seat when an MPSSAA stat keeper offered me hers. In a rare instance of foresight, or good fortune, I avoided the large crowd in the arena's ticket area by wandering in the back way, through the press/hospitality room.
Percentage of points scored by one player: Aberdeen's Brionna Jones, the 6-3 junior center who passed the 1,000-point barrier in the first game of the 2011-12 season, making her a real threat to post 2,000 high school career tallies, scored 25 of the Eagles' 62 points on Saturday, which accounted for 40.3 percent of her team's offensive output, and was more than double the next highest scorer, River Hill's Jenna Collins (12 points). Jones was also responsible for 100 percent of Aberdeen's blocks (four).
Time in the lead: Unlike the journalist sitting next to me at the press table, whose notebook I glanced at once or twice, I do not note the time at which each of the game's points is scored, so this is something of an estimate, but Aberdeen, following Kierra Palmer's two-point field goal that gave the Eagles an 8-7 advantage, held the lead for approximately the next 29 minutes, which was the balance of the game.
Number of Harford girls basketball state titles in the last four years: After going 36 years without a single Harford County team bringing home a girls basketball state championship banner, they've been flooding in since Fallston broke through in 2009, with Aberdeen's 3A title win the third in the last four seasons. Consider this: Had Aberdeen beaten Frederick last year, and I think they should have, that would be four straight Harford County champions. Still, no other local sports aside from field hockey and swimming can claim a success rate like three state crowns in four years, and it's a good indicator of how competitive girls basketball is in this county. Hopefully we'll see Aberdeen back in the finals next year.