Junior Jasmine Dickey scored 18 of her game-high 30 points from the foul line to lead Catonsville to its first girls basketball state championship.
The Comets won the Class 4A crown by defeating defending 4A champion Walt Whitman, 49-46, Saturday at Towson’s SECU Arena.
“I am absolutely numb,” said Catonsville coach Mike Mohler, in his 22nd season leading the program. “It’s been 30 years since the Catonsville girls have even been in the finals.”
It was the first time one of Mohler’s Comets squads reached the finals.
It was the No. 4 Comets’ first appearance in the state finals since 1987, when coach Debbie Clem’s Comets fell, 50-41, to La Plata.
It was the first state title for any team at Catonsville High since 1996 when the girls lacrosse team won the crown. Mohler's daughter, Meghann, was on that team.
Against Whitman, Catonsville (26-2) only shot 26.4 percent (14-for-53) from the field, but the defense held Whitman to 25 percent shooting (13-for-52) in a game that had 41 total fouls, including 23 on Whitman (23-5).
That was the way Dickey wanted it and that’s why she came out of the locker room at halftime with the Comets trailing 20-17 and went straight to the foul line for warm-ups.
“That was my objective going into the game, make them foul me and get to the free throw line and make the free throws, so that’s what I worked on,” Dickey said.
In the first half, Dickey made three of five free throws. In the second half, she made 13 straight free throws and 15 of 19 overall.
“She’s a really great player and it’s easy for her to get to the basket and get those fouls,” said Princeton-bound Whitman senior Abby Meyers, who led the Vikings with 26 points before fouling out with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter.
Dickey missed her last free throw and that might have been the most valuable.
It came with the Comets leading 48-46 with 19.1 seconds left in the game. After Dickey made her first attempt, she missed the second and got her 11th rebound of the game.
The Comets played keep-away until Gabby Douglas was fouled with 6.6 seconds left. She made the second of two free throws, giving the Comets a 49-46 lead.
A traveling call gave the Comets the ball back with one second left and they ran out the clock and celebrated by jumping into the stands with a spirited group of Catonsville supporters.
Catonsville principal Matt Ames could barely contain his emotion.
“I was a coach here for so many years and I love this athletic program, this school and this community,” Ames said. “The fans are unbelievable.”
Mohler echoed his feelings.
“To the Catonsville community and our students, it was just overwhelming,” Mohler said.
For the second straight game, the Comets had to play despite early foul trouble to a key starter.
In the 64-40 win over North Point in the state semifinals, Dickey and senior Jen Gast each had two fouls midway through the first quarter.
Against Whitman, Jamelia Barrett, who scored a game-high 26 points against North Point, got three fouls in the first 70 seconds of the game.
Senior Amber Lally came off the bench for the rest of the half, contributed a key steal and several floor burns.
“She is a tough, hard-nosed kid who is just going to give you everything,” Mohler said of Lally, who also drew a charge on Meyers with 5:49 left in the fourth quarter.
Barrett returned in the third quarter and the Comets held the Vikings without a field goal for the first 6:42 of the quarter.
“They have a great defensive team,” Walt Whitman coach Peter Kenah said. "That starting five is like a college team."
Dickey had eight points in the quarter and gave the Comets a 30-23 lead with a basket with 3:12 left.
Five points in the final 1:18 by Meyers cut the deficit to 30-29 heading in the fourth quarter.
Catonsville trailed 31-30 after two free throws by Meyers, but Dickey answered with two free throws for a 32-31 lead with 7:37 left in the fourth quarter and the Comets never trailed again.
After being outrebounded 29-17 in the first half, the Comets outrebounded the Vikings 26-14 in the second half.
Gast led the Comets with 13 rebounds and Barrett (five) and Stashia Daniels (four) also contributed on the boards.
“She [Gast] just did such a great job on the boards,” Mohler said.
Gast’s final rebound came with 34 seconds left after Olivia Meyers (15 points) had pulled the Vikings within one, 47-46, with two free throws with 50.8 seconds left.
They were that final points for the Vikings.
The title game ended the Catonsville careers of seniors Gast, Lally and Aakilah Barrett.
“Thank goodness my last game was a state championship,” Gast said. “I’m happy with this team. We had a really good ride and I’m excited.”
Juniors Dickey, Barrett, Daniels, Cerenity Chambers, Alicia Buck and Namomi Alford, sophomores Douglas and Savannah Beaver and freshman Maddie McLean and Kolby Weedon also got to wear the state championship medal, along with first-year assistant coach Mandy Fischer.
Fischer, who coached and played at Perry Hall High before coming to Catonsville, was honored to learn under veteran coach Mohler.
“I am a so grateful to be with Mike,” Fischer said. “This school is a community. It is a great group of kids. Mike, his reputation precedes himself. Now I get to see behind the scenes what is going on. He is incredible, an incredible strategist, always prepared and I really enjoyed balancing a thousand ideas off of him and it has been such a blessing. It’s been an incredible life-changing season.”
Jasmine Dickey 30, Gabby Douglas 7, Jen Gast 6, Stashia Daniels 4, Jameila Barrett 2
Walt Whitman 46
Abbey Meyers 26, Olivia Meyers 15, Carter McGloon 5
Halftime: Walt Whitman 20 Catonsville 17