With two freshmen and only one senior in the starting lineup, Patterson Mill’s girls basketball season has been a work in progress.
In the state Class 2A semifinals on Wednesday, the No. 10 Huskies showed just how far they’d come, running up a 19-point first-half lead and going on to a 62-44 victory over Walkersville, from Frederick County, at Towson University’s SECU Arena to earn their first trip to the state title game.
The past two years, the Huskies (21-4) have fallen to eventual state champion Calvert in the state semifinals. This time, they will meet the three-time defending champions for the title Saturday at 1 p.m. at SECU Arena. The Cavaliers (21-4) defeated Dunbar, 53-50, in the other 2A semifinal on Wednesday.
Freshmen guard Khayla Mitchell and forward Chyna Latimer had a lot to do with the Huskies’ quick start, combining for 10 of the first 15 points before Patterson Mill took an 18-1 lead on Sam Herman’s 3-pointer a minute into the second quarter.
Latimer finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds and Mitchell had nine points. They were the perfect complement to the veteran junior duo of Qalea Ismail — who led the Huskies with 26 points and hit four 3-pointers —and point guard Sam Herman, who scored seven and dished out eight assists.
Huskies coach Holly Ismail said it took a while for the freshmen to get comfortable with their roles and follow the lead of the two veterans.
“First Aberdeen game, our second game of the year, we were very young then,” she said. “We just didn’t have a concept of how to play good defense, and I knew that it was going to be a slow road to get to this point. Maybe 10 games in, I felt like we really turned the corner defensively and really started clicking as a team.”
The Lions (22-4), buoyed by five bus loads of fans, cut the Huskies’ lead to 14 late in the third quarter, but Sia Barnes hit a 3-pointer from the corner to quiet the crowd and start a 10-point Huskies run.
Walkersville’s Tyra Hughes, who led the team with 19 points, missed an open 3-pointer after Barnes’ hit hers and the Lions’ couldn’t get the momentum back. They shot 0-for-16 from 3-point range.
Lions coach Mike Mathis said his team fought all night, but they couldn’t recover from the early deficit and couldn’t contain Qalea Ismail, who finished with four 3-pointers and was 9 of 13 overall.
“You get down 18-1 and that’s tough to come back from,” Mathis said. “Them being here the past couple years, I thought if we could keep it close that would be in their favor … and then it just seemed like every time we’d make a little run, [Ismail] was phenomenal tonight ... so you give her the credit.”
Coming out of halftime with a 28-11 lead, the Huskies extended that to 30-11 on Ismail’s basket. After Hughes answered that, Ismail hit a 3-pointer and Mitchell scored off a long pass to boost the Huskies’ lead to 21 two minutes into the half.
The Lions cut the lead to 12 on Hughes’ layup with 2:24 left in the third quarter, but Patterson Mill came back with 10 straight points, boosting their lead to 48-26 with 38 seconds left in the third quarter. After Hughes scored four, Ismail hit a 3-pointer to finish off the quarter with a 51-30 lead.
To start the game, the Huskies jumped out quickly with Mitchell and Herman converting steals and Herman feeding Ismail on the break for a 6-0 lead in a little over two minutes.
Walkersville didn’t score for more than four minutes, until Lana Long made a free throw. Mitchell banked in a 12-footer to give the Huskies a 15-1 lead after one quarter.
Herman opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer before the Lions scored their first field goal when Hughes converted a steal. Walkersville picked up the offense a little, but the Huskies kept pulling away and led by as many as 19 before taking a 28-11 lead into the break.
No. 10 Patterson Mill, Walkersville
PM—Ehly 1, Mitchell 9, Herman 7, Latimer 15, Barnes 4, Ismail 26. Totals 24 8-21 62.
W—Hughes 19, Harper 5, Diggs 1, Mathis 2, Mathis 2, White 2, Derexson 1, Crouch 1, Taylor 2, Long 11. Totals 18 8-17. Half: PM, 28-11.