At times this season, Archbishop Spalding's girls basketball team has gone away from its inside strength, but the No. 1 Cavaliers used their physical advantage with 5-foot-11 Camille Calhoun and 6-foot Jade Scaife to earn their fourth straight trip to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship.
Calhoun scored eight of her 14 points in the first quarter and had 15 rebounds in the game, while Scaife finished with 17 points and five rebounds as the host Cavaliers won their semifinal Thursday, 61-52, over No. 5 Roland Park in a game that was much closer than the final score.
The Cavaliers (26-1) will meet No. 3 McDonogh (21-6), the defending champion, for the title Sunday at Goucher College at 5 p.m. in a rematch of last year's final in which the Eagles rallied from 22 points down to take a 46-44 victory. On Thursday, the Eagles defeated No. 8 St. Frances, 49-37, in the other semifinal.
At Spalding, the Cavaliers couldn't shake Roland Park (16-10) until the final two minutes, but strong inside play early in the game gave them enough breathing room to keep a lead after Calhoun's follow shot made it 20-18 with 2:07 left before halftime.
"We're very athletic," Calhoun said. "We're not the tallest team, but we have jumping ability, so pounding the boards is a big advantage to us. Jade, definitely, with post moves. It can be one against five and she'll get the bucket."
The Cavaliers ran their lead as high as 47-34 two minutes into the fourth quarter, but the Reds rallied with nine straight points, including a long 3-pointer from Beth Kelly and a couple of baskets from Jaia Alexander.
After taking their 13-point lead, the Cavaliers were rushing their offense and taking outside shots that played into the Reds' rally. Spalding missed eight straight shots as Roland Park cut the lead to 47-43 when Ryan Holder fed Alexander with 3:39 left.
"It's the fourth quarter and we're up by 10, taking jump shots five seconds into the shot clock. It was déjà vu all over again. That's what happened the second half of [last year's] championship game," Spalding coach Bookie Rosemond said. "When we have the lead, we have to run time and possession."
Rosemond called a timeout with 2:17 to go and then the Cavaliers started going inside and to the free-throw line. Calhoun and Myka Johnson-Matthews hit shots to boost the lead to 53-44, and the Cavaliers went 8-for-10 from the free-throw line the rest of the way to seal the victory.
The Cavaliers also did a good job covering Kelly, who hit three 3-pointers -- two from NBA range -- and can get them back in a game quickly. She finished with 12 points, while forward Michala Clay led the Reds with 14.
"I thought we had a shot the whole way," said Reds coach Scott Buckley, who starts two freshmen and two sophomores. "They're a little mentally tougher than we are at this stage. It got really physical, and I think we got a little frustrated."
NO. 3 MCDONOGH 49, NO. 8 ST. FRANCES 37: Eagles point guard Danielle Edwards scored 18 of her 20 points in the first half and guard Dajah Logan scored all 15 of her points in the second half to send McDonogh back to the title game.
Edwards hit four 3-pointers, while Maya Wynn and Lilli Robb hit one each. The Eagles led by six points at the break, but Logan's close-range game, along with strong defense, sparked a big second half.
The Eagles held St. Frances to just 13 points in the second half and held the Panthers' best player, Tyshell King, to just two of her 13 points after halftime.
"It was a battle again," McDonogh coach Brad Rees said. "We went 4-for-13 in the first half from the foul line, but I felt like we were under control. Dani hit four long 3-pointers. Dajah kind of took over with a lot of short-range stuff in the second half and defense was the big turnaround in the second half."
Archbishop Spalding 61, Roland Park 52
RP--Alexander 12, Edwards 11, Kelly 12, Holder 14, Hauser 1. Totals 19 10-16 52.
AS--S.Clark 3, Scaife 17, Chestnut 5, Epps 16, Calhoun 14, Johnson-Matthews 6. Totals 20-21-29 61. Half: AS, 24-19.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun