Archbishop Spalding senior Jade Scaife spent most of three quarters of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game against McDonogh sitting on the bench, frustrated for herself, but confident in her teammates.
Finally, after McDonogh's Danielle Edwards hit a 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 39-35 lead with 5:23 left in regulation, Scaife took over.
She scored 12 of her team's final 20 points and sparked the Cavaliers (27-1) to a 55-46 victory at Goucher College.
"I was very frustrated sitting on the bench, but I knew my teammates would stick it out," said Scaife, who also had six of her seven rebounds in the fourth quarter. "I've said several times before that we are not just one player — we are all capable of getting it done."
That was the case for the Cavaliers, who got contributions from everyone who stepped on the floor.
Senior Camille Calhoun knew her role and her coach reminded her at halftime.
"In the first half they were definitely outrebounding us and there is no reason for that," Calhoun said. "We talked at halftime about not letting them get on the boards because we had to win this game and we did."
Calhoun finished with a game-high 15 rebounds.
As she has done all season, senior Tori Chestnut provided stellar defense and contributed nine of her 12 points in the first half.
"Tori Chestnut has been the key all year defensively for us and she always guards their best scorer and she did it tonight," Spalding coach Bookie Rosemond said. "She did work on both ends of the floor."
Senior Aleah Epps (12 points, four steals) ran the offense and hit a 3-pointer with 4:09 left to give the Cavaliers a lead they would not relinquish.
She also made three of four free throws in the final 85 seconds to preserve the victory.
"Aleah had ice water in her veins when she knocked down those foul shots," Rosemond said.
Senior Sierra Clark (five rebounds) provided tough interior defense and sophomore Myka Johnson-Matthews contributed nine points off the bench.
Senior Alex Puller played limited minutes, but made an impact on her coach.
"Alex Puller gave me some great minutes. She hit a big 3 and came up with some huge loose balls in the first half," Rosemond said. "It was a total team effort. Whoever is open shoots the shot. That's what makes us so hard to defend."
The loss avenged a 46-44 loss in the 2012 championship game when McDonogh rallied from a 22-point first-half deficit.
"So much was expected of us last year and we had to live with that big monkey on our back," Rosemond said. "I'm just happy and proud of those girls for never stop believing in themselves."
This year's game never got out of hand.
Spalding led by one after the first quarter, two at halftime and one, 32-31, after three quarters.
McDonogh (21-7) rallied on a floater by Dajah Logan (six points, three steals) and a three-point play by Brianna Jacobs (10 points, three steals) with 6:19 left for a 36-34 lead. Edwards answered Calhoun's free throw with her 3-pointer that gave McDonogh its biggest lead, 39-35.
That's when Scaife came alive and sparked a 7-0 run, and the Cavaliers never looked back.
"I think we took a little breath when we got her in foul trouble," McDonogh coach Brad Rees said. "We felt pretty good and kind of relaxed, but we never got into it mentally."
The coach, who started three sophomores and two juniors, was still impressed with his team's effort, that also included 10 points from Andrea Robinson and 11 rebounds from Jameira Johnson.
"I'm so proud of them. We have come so far since we were destroyed by them in December," Rees said. "Just being here was just a major accomplishment."
Scaife 15, Chestnut 12, Epps 11, Johnson-Matthews 9, Puller 3, Clark 3, Calhoun 2.
Robinson 10, Jacobs 10, Edwards 8, Logan 6, Wynn 5, Martin 3, Robb 2, Johnson 2
B Conference final
St. Mary's 49
St. Mary's leading scorers senior Jennifer Broussard (16 points), juniors Samantha Mocniak (15), Leah Hurst (10). Leading rebounder senior Madison Troisi (18 rebounds)
C Conference final
St. Timothy's 57
St. Tim's led 29-14 at halftime.