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Harford County girls basketball is better than ever [Commentary]

How 'bout the Aberdeen girls basketball team?

If you were not able to attend Saturday night's state title game at UMBC, then you've had to rely on written stories like mine in this paper or hear bits and pieces of the outcome from someone who was there.

The fact is this: Aberdeen gutted it out and put together a remarkable late game run to secure a second straight Maryland Class 3A State Championship. And you know, things might be in the cards for another one next year.

The reality is this: Since 2009, Harford County has been as good as any other county in the state when it comes to showing up at UMBC in March. Oddly enough, in this modern era which began in 1973, Harford County girls basketball was shut out in the title search for 35 years.

There were a handful of teams who reached a state final, but failed to win. They were North Harford in 1985; Havre de Grace in 1988; Fallston in 1992 and 1995; and Joppatowne in 1994.

In 2009, however, it all changed and we are still enjoying that roll.

Fallston made the breakthrough in its 10th trip to the state tourney. The Cougars' title win in 2009 wasn't improbable, but it wasn't a guarantee either, playing at the 3A level.

Then in 2010, Harford County really made a name for itself and served notice with a pair of state crowns. Fallston repeated, winning at the 2A level, while Joppatowne enjoyed its only championship, winning the 1A title.

Following in 2011, the county stayed busy as Aberdeen and Joppatowne played their way to UMBC. For Aberdeen, it was the first of three straight appearances in the 3A finals. That year, the Eagles let a lead slip away late, or we could be talking about a three-peat right now.

Joppatowne wasn't able to repeat its performance from 2010, but it set up what we've seen the past two seasons.

A year ago, Aberdeen made its way back to the 3A finals and made good on that trip. Patterson Mill also made its first trip to the state's Final Four, but an 11-point loss in the semifinals kept them shy of the goal.

Now, in 2013, it was Aberdeen and Patterson Mill again, carrying the torch for Harford County. We've already touched on Aberdeen's weekend success, while Patterson Mill is still looking for that first title game appearance.

So, does the future look bright? I believe so.

Sadly, we have to say good bye to a handful of key players in this most recent success. Aberdeen loses Brionna Jones and Jimmia McCluskey, while Patterson Mill loses Morgan Golec, Elizabeth Wilson and Lydia Moro.

Happily, though, we still have a few years to watch some other exciting players on these two teams. At Aberdeen, sophomore point guard Kierra Palmer is two-for-two in state title tries. Freshmen Stephanie Jones and Endia Jones were major players in year's success, especially when Bri Jones went down with her knee injury. Sophomore Nazje Norton also stepped up in that absence.

At Patterson Mill, sophomores Sam Herman and Qalea Ismail have been major factors in why the Huskies have back-to-back region titles. Somebody else will need to step in if the Huskies are to win a third, but don't count them out.

The fact is we have reason to anticipate another good girls basketball season several months from now. So for now, let's enjoy the oncoming spring. Oh, the Spring Peepers are getting louder by the night.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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