No. 1 McDonogh's finishing kick set the Eagles apart from their toughest Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference basketball opposition all season and it delivered them again in Monday night's championship.
The Eagles outscored No. 3 Roland Park 25-5 in the final 13 minutes to win their second A Conference championship in three years, 57-46, at Archbishop Spalding.
Trailing by nine after Reds' guard Ryan Holder's 3-pointer with five minutes left in the third quarter, McDonogh rallied with nine straight points, took the lead on Danielle Edwards' short jumper with four seconds left in the quarter and kept on going to finish off a 17-0 run against A Conference teams this winter.
Their experience in the title game — the Eagles (26-2) lost to Spalding in last year's final — certainly helped Monday night.
"We've been here three years in a row and Roland Park hasn't," said McDonogh guard Dajah Logan, "so I think that was one thing that pushed us through, knowing how to handle time, knowing how to handle the pressure situations … It just brought us along and led us to victory."
Edwards' jumper after a Reds turnover gave the Eagles their first lead, 45-43, since late in the first half.
"It kind of gave us our momentum back," Edwards said.
The Reds (20-7) would cut the lead to one on a free throw by Holder, but McDonogh answered with 11 straight points.
Edwards, who finished with 15 points including her 1,000th career point, scored six straight points after Holder's layup and the Eagles ran their lead to 56-44 on two free throws by Brianna Jacobs with 55.8 seconds left.
Holder, who led Roland Park with 13 points, cut the margin to 56-46 with 12 seconds left after the Reds had gone more than 11 minutes without a field goal.
"It was tough because we worked really hard to get to this point," said Reds forward Lindsey Edwards, Danielle's cousin. "We knew they weren't going to go away. We knew that we needed to keep up the intensity going into the second half but we just couldn't seem to get our offense running. I think that was our downfall."
During his halftime talk, Eagles coach Brad Rees drew on McDonogh's first IAAM championship two years ago, when the Eagles rallied from 22 points down just before the half to beat Spalding.
"It's nice when you can go in at halftime and say, 'Hey, we're only down six. We've been here before and we were down 22. This is nothing,'" Rees said. "But it's a testimony to the kids. The first half, we were discombobulated, leadership was missing a little bit and Roland Park did a great job of taking us out of what we normally do."
Roland Park had not been to the title game since 2004, when it lost to St. Frances, but the Reds return every starter next year. The Eagles graduate two starters, Jacobs and Wynn, who had 10 points.
No. 8 Severn never trailed en route to a 64-53 victory over the Institute of Notre Dame for the B Conference championship. It was the fifth title since 2004 for the Admirals (22-2), who did not lose to a B Conference opponent this winter.
Although the Penguins (16-5) outrebounded the Admirals by one, Gibbons grabbed 15 for the Severn and Maddie McDaniel had 14. The duo also led the team in scoring with McDaniel's 25 points and Gibbons' 18. Maya Harris had 11.
Brooke Fields led the Penguins with 21 points while Morgen Caution scored 11. Shana Williams had six points and 12 rebounds.
St. Timothy's rallied from 11 points down early in the third quarter to beat Catholic, 59-47, to repeat as C Conference champions. In finishing off a 22-0 season, St. Timothy's won its 42nd straight game.
After falling behind 30-19 with Catholic's first basket of the third quarter, St. Timothy's went to its inside strength with sophomore forward Olivia Finckel scoring eight of her 15 points in the quarter.
Finckel hit two quick baskets on feeds from Hailey Dayton (21 points) to give St. Timothy's the momentum. Her follow shot to open the fourth quarter gave St. Timothy's a 43-40 lead. Jenelle Fields tied it with a 3-pointer for the Cuts, but Dayton, who finished with 21 points including four 3-pointers, answered with a 3-pointer and St. Timothy's never trailed again.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun