Manchester Valley coach Heather DeWees said Mackenzie DeWees helped create a culture at the school.
It doesn’t just include Mackenzie, DeWees’ daughter and Carroll County’s all-time leading scorer, but the players, the “great women that lead,” DeWees said, who come through the program year after year.
The Mavericks saw their season come to an end in the regional final for a third straight year after suffering a 58-41 loss to reigning 3A state champion Frederick. The Cadets ended the Mavs’ season last year as well, and they certainly knew what to expect.
Mackenzie DeWees, visibly emotional, offered words of praise for her teammates and coaches during her career at Man Valley, saying they have all shaped her into the basketball player she is today. Everything, she added, is owed to her mother.
“It’s really tough thinking that I won’t be playing for her anymore or playing for this program, but I’ll miss the big lights and ‘My gym’ as I call it,” Mackenzie DeWees said. “I know that Quinnipiac is waiting and I will be in great hands there but hopefully I left my mark in the county with my team and in the state. Honestly, at the end of the day, I know I didn’t get to Towson at all but it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean anything of my career. I had so much fun playing with the girls and for my team and for my school that at the end of the day, nothing will top playing for Manchester Valley.”
DeWees led the Mavs with 21 points, along with seven rebounds and four steals. Josey Klingenberg had four steals and four assists, and Erin Piper added seven rebounds and five steals.
It was a full house at Man Valley on Saturday and members of the Mavs’ student section held up a number of signs and posters supporting the team. Some were enlarged images of the faces of Heather DeWees and Klingenberg.
Others read “Maverick Pride” and “Mack attack” — in support of Mackenzie DeWees, who played her final game at Man Valley, despite a nagging pain from a high ankle sprain she sustained in a game against Francis Scott Key early in the season.
DeWees, a Quinnipiac commit, left the second quarter with 31 seconds remaining after suffering what appeared to be an injury to that same ankle.
“I’ve been dealing with this ankle sprain all season,” DeWees said. “I stepped on somebody’s foot in the Westminster game last time and I fought back and I’ve been doing so well. I think I was just fatigued and when I stepped, I just lost my footing and I rolled it again. I rolled it out and I’ve done that three times. I didn’t think for one second that I was going to stop playing, I didn’t care how bad the pain hurt, I didn’t care what wasting to happen to me, I didn’t care if I was going to play with one leg. I was going to hobble on the court and keep playing, that’s how much this game means to me and this school and this program.”
The Mavericks came out hot, enough to use a 7-1 lead to hold off Frederick early on. Junior forward Ellie Boswell and Amelia Saunders connected with a pair of 3-pointers and DeWees knocked in free throws to keep the Mavs ahead 17-10 after the first.
Cadets junior guard Makayla Daniels, an Arkansas commit, erased that deficit by scoring 10 of her 20 points in a row to give the Cadets a two point lead — Frederick wouldn’t lose the lead again.
DeWees returned to the court for the second half after her ankle was evaluated during the break. It was a chippy quarter for both teams as the Mavs tried to erase a 10-point deficit after a jump shot from Daniels put Frederick ahead 39-29.
The Cadets closed out the frame on a 7-0 run as chants of “FGB” rang loud from the visiting section of the bleachers.
The visitors continued to pull away in the fourth and a three-point play from freshman Rose Bubaker put the Cadets ahead 54-24.
DeWees scored the Mavs’ final seven points and received an embrace from her mother before taking a seat on the sideline just before the buzzer.
“Coaching 700 AAU games since Mackenzie was in third grade is a lot of practice and it made me a better coach it made me more resilient and gave me tools I needed to make this team better,” Heather DeWees said. “I made some changes when Mackenzie came in after the first few games, she asked why I don't coach like I do in AAU. I didn’t know if I was holding back but I realized I needed to be that coach and when I finally started working with the culture of our team, demanding certain things and watching more film and doing the thing we were doing in AAU, just really emphasizing the ‘We,’ the culture changed and that made a difference.”
Frederick (58): Kyrstyn Lithicum 3, Natalie Washington 4, India Keene 3, Sumai Williams 2, Rhiana Hall 2, MaKayla Daniels 20, Rose Bubaker 17.
Manchester Valley (41): Josey Klingenberg 4, Erin Piper 6, Ellie Boswell 7, Mackenzie DeWees 21.