For the first time in 32 years, Francis Scott Key’s girls basketball team can be linked to a county championship.
The Eagles edged visiting Manchester Valley 43-40 on Thursday — a win that clinched at least a share of the Carroll County Athletic League crown — in front of a bustling crowd anxious to witness this program accomplish something that had not been done since 1987.
FSK senior Karla Stonesifer said the love she has for her teammates has never changed, but the program’s momentum, teamwork and chemistry certainly has.
“We’re going to keep it going,” Stonesifer said. “Being a senior and seeing this happen, we’ve worked so hard for this and it’s finally here. We’re going to change the look because we’ve been the underdogs so we’re coming out to show people.”
Stonesifer scored a game-high 16 points for the Eagles (15-1, 9-0 CCAL). Fellow senior Kennedy Cornick scored eight and freshman guard Savannah Brooks notched seven.
FSK used a 6-0 scoring run to build a 16-7 lead in the first quarter. Eight points total were scored in the second frame — seven of them came from the Mavericks as they held Key to one, a free throw from Brooks with 2 minutes, 44 seconds left.
Man Valley’s Kassidy Johnson hit a 3-pointer as time expired to bring the Mavs within three of the Eagles at the break. Johnson, a junior, helped pace MV with 10 points, four rebounds, two steals, and an assist.
Johnson said this year has brought out a lot of positives in the Mavericks and despite not winning every game, the team’s chemistry has continued to improved.
“I love this season so far and we all get along so well, our chemistry is very good,” Johnson said. “I knew that they would key in on Amelia [Saunders] and Josey [Klingenberg] so I knew I had to step up as another leader on the team so I could pass more, try to get up more, screen or score more. We knew with losing Mackenzie [DeWees] we needed one piece of the puzzle from everybody so I know they key in on Amelia and Josey so I have to help them and make sure they get everything done.”
A pair of 3s from Klingenberg and Savannah Flater gave Man Valley its first lead in the third quarter at 20-19.
The Eagles continued to provide a balanced attack, however, thanks to four straight points from Stonesifer. Johnson landed another 3 to give the Mavericks their largest lead, 27-23, with just over a minute left until a pair of free throws from Bailey Mathias and a layup from Cornick tied the game at 27-27 to close out the third.
The Eagles regained the lead in the fourth on a 6-0 run, but Sydney Resau cut that run to make it 33-29. The teams shared points back and forth for the remainder of the game, but the Mavericks couldn’t catch back up to FSK despite a late run from Klingenberg and Rylee Breeding.
Klingenberg scored 10 points and added seven steals, six rebounds and four assists for the Mavericks (5-9, 2-6). Saunders notched nine points, six rebounds and two assists and steals apiece. Erin Piper added seven rebounds and Resau brought down four boards.
FSK is on a nine-game winning streak and has county games remaining against South Carroll, Liberty, and Winters Mill.
“We know that everybody’s equal in the county and we know we have to hustle and we have to work because it’s not just going to come easy to us,” Stonesifer said. “It was important for our personal self-esteem and gaining the respect from the county because people come in here and think they’re just going to walk on us because it’s been like that in past years.