After Saturday's round of MPSSAA regional girls basketball title games, only Patterson Mill was left standing, as the Huskies ran away with an 87-48 road victory over Queen Anne's in the 2A East title game.
Defending 3A champ Aberdeen was knocked out of the North regional tournament with a 80-62 loss to Milford Mill, while Havre de Grace saw its season end with a 101-13 defeat at the hands of Mardela in the 1A East final.
Patterson Mill, which has captured three straight regional crowns but never made it past the state semifinal round, will square off with 2A West champ Walkersville on Wednesday at Towson's SECU Arena.
In Saturday's romp over Queen Anne's, the Huskies (20-4) got their top performance from Qalea Ismail, who poured in 38 points. Ismail said after the game that she and her teammates are motived by having lost in the state semifinals the last two years.
"We're definitely ready for that game," she said. "We really want it. We've been to the state semifinals two years in a row and have gotten knocked out both times, so we're definitely motivated to win this time."
Three other Huskies dipped into double-digits in Saturday's victory: Sam Herman scored 16 points, Chyna Latimer had 14 and Sia Barnes scored 11 points. Khayla Mitchell posted eight points.
"If you look how our scoring was spread out, you get an idea of why this team is successful," Patterson Mill head coach Holly Ismail said. "If you try to double team or focus in on Qalea, someone else is going to be open. When you have that many scoring threats, it really spreads the court out for you. Also, we've had a lot of players injured this year, and the last few games were the first where we had everyone healthy at the same time. That's always a plus. I think we're peaking right when we should."
The 39-point victory, Holly Ismail said, came about because of the Huskies' game plan to play hard from start to finish.
"We've had every kind of game this year," she said. "We've had huge wins, some really close games and a couple of overtime losses. Because of that, our attitude is to play all-out from opening tip to the final buzzer no matter what the situation is. That's how we played tonight, and how we're going to approach the state tournament, too."
After falling to two-time defending state champion Aberdeen twice in the last two years, including the 2012 regional championship, the No. 4 Milford Mill girls basketball team got its revenge with an 80-62 victory in Saturday night's Class 3A North regional championship.
The Millers dethroned the Eagles with swarming defense, transition offense and aggressive rebounding that broke the game open late in the second half. When Dionna White finished off a 22-5 run with a layup to open the third quarter, the Millers led 40-25.
The Eagles, who had been to three straight state finals, would get no closer than nine points.
"It was basically defense and staying aggressive," Millers senior Qierra Murray said. "We know they're long and big and physical, so just like with Catonsville [in winning the Baltimore County championship] we had to rebound, rebound, rebound because we're small and we had to push, run, run, run to get them tired."
The Millers (24-1) relied on their deeper bench and also got 15 points from forward-guard Akiri Lewis. They will advance to the state semifinals for the 10th time and seek a second state title to go with their 2005 trophy. They will meet Westlake on Thursday at 9 p.m. at Towson University's SECU Arena.
White, a junior and an All-Metro guard since her freshman year, provided much of the spark, finishing with 32 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals. She kept the Millers' up-tempo game rolling, leading a defense that powered their offense.
"She's a very dynamic player," Aberdeen coach Amber Milnes said. "She's very good at jumping the passing lanes, and we just got caught sleeping on her … We lost her, and then when she drove down the paint, our bigs weren't ready to step in and do the help, so we kind of just let her do what she does and she does it so well, which is why they're going on to states."
Aberdeen (17-7) erased Milford's early advantage and took a 16-14 lead on Stephanie Jones' 3-pointer late in the first quarter. The Eagles took an 18-17 lead into the second quarter, but White opened the quarter by feeding Kelli Smoot for a 3-pointer and the Eagles never again led.
Jones, an All-Metro forward-guard, added two free throws to tie at 20 before the Millers took off on their 22-5 run. Despite 34 point from Jones, the Eagles couldn't contend with the Millers' speed and quickness.
"The just beat us down the floor," Milnes said. "They caught us off guard. We couldn't get our defenses set up. They run a lot of cut plays through the middle. We weren't keeping track of people in our area and we just easily got caught in bad transitions on defense and they took advantage of it."
Aberdeen had nine turnovers in the Millers' decisive run, including two late in the second quarter on steals by White in the open court. The Eagles also went without a field goal from the time Jones hit a long jump shot with 52 seconds left in the first quarter until her next basket with 2:36 left before halftime.
Jones, who scored 46 points in the sectional semifinal, also had 14 rebounds, but the Millers won a lot of key boards even though they only outrebounded the Eagles 48-40.
For the Millers, this has been just part of the goal since day one.
"Even in tryouts, we were saying we wanted to get there — now it's Towson," Murray said. "We want to hold up that state championship banner and bring it back home. But we're still viewed as the underdogs, coming here to Aberdeen with them being the defending two-time champions and then winning by 18, it's a good confidence builder, but we've got to stay humble and hungry."
[Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun]
Warriors lose big
Havre de Grace, seeking its first region crown since 1990, had a rough day on the lower Eastern Shore. The Warriors traveled to Mardela, also home of the Warriors, and left with a 101-13 defeat.
Havre de Grace, which was dealt a pair of technical fouls in the loss, fell behind 20-5 through one quarter. The Mardela lead was 50-7 at the half and 74-11 at the end of the third. Mardela's starting five started the final quarter and continued to press, despite the insurmountable lead.
Taylor Smith scored five points, while four others contributed two points apiece. Havre de Grace ends the season 12-9.
Road to regional finals
Aberdeen, Havre de Grace and Patterson Mill girls basketball teams each reached the final regional round with victories Thursday.
Aberdeen's win came over league opponent and visiting Bel Air, 84-35, in the Class 3A North-Section II final.
The Eagles led 41-14 late in the first half and went to the half leading 48-17. The lead was 63-24 late in quarter three, setting up the final push toward the lopsided win.
Nazje Norton poured in 29 points to guide Aberdeen, while Stephanie Jones added 17 points and Kierra Palmer scored 16.
Bel Air (15-9) was led by Megan Barrett with nine points.
Warriors beat Colonels
Havre de Grace claimed the 1A East-Section I title with a 53-33 win over visiting Colonel Richardson.
The Warriors jumped out to a 14-4 lead through one quarter and led 26-17 at the half.
A 4-0 run to start the second half pushed the lead to 30-17 and with Addie Richardson's second three-point basket of the half, the lead jumped to 35-19 and the Colonels called timeout with 2:39 left in the third quarter.
The quarter ended with the Warriors leading, 37-21. Colonel Richardson closed to within 43-31 early in quarter four, but Havre de Grace pulled back away for the comfortable 20-point victory.
Richardson scored 22 points to lead three Warriors in double figures. Taylor Smith scored 12 points, despite missing time with four fouls, and Essence Maye finished with 10 points.
Seven players scored for Havre de Grace.
Huskies pound Tigers
Patterson Mill easily won the 2A East-Section I title, beating visiting Rising Sun, 77-26.
Junior Qalea Ismail led all scorers with 24 points, including 15 in the first quarter. Ismail also had eight steals, three assists and four blocks.
Sia Barnes and Chyna Latimer both had 15 points; Latimer completed the double-double with 11 rebounds.
Sam Herman contributed a team-high 11 assists to go along with five steals, while Kate Ekhart pulled down nine rebounds and Stephanie Ehly had four steals.
"This was a really nice complete team effort with players contributing in all areas of the game," Huskies head coach Holly Ismail said.