Manchester Valley junior forward Carmaya Bowman had a very simple explanation as to why her team beat visiting Westminster in the Class 3A East Region I semifinals Tuesday night.
“We wanted it more,” Bowman said.
Manchester Valley used tight defense and a timely offense to erase a one-point deficit entering the fourth quarter and defeat the Owls, 44-37.
Bowman led all scorers with 15 points, while Kyrsten Lucas contributed 13. Freshman Maddy Gassman led Westminster with 11 points.
Second-seeded Manchester Valley (21-2) advances to Thursday’s regional championship, where the Mavericks will play at top-seed Howard.
Bowman was one of four players on a Mavericks team that lost to Westminster in the 2020 regional playoffs. She and her teammates were determined not to let it happen again.
“It’s all about what you want,” said Bowman. “We knew they were a good team and we knew we had to come out [in the fourth quarter] and play hard. We started moving better on offense, and playing better defense.”
The Mavericks led by eight at the half, but Westminster, which only scored 13 points in the first half, played much better in the third quarter. The Owls (12-8) outscored Manchester Valley 15-6 in the third quarter. Westminster got two 3-pointers by Gassman and one by Kirsten Whitehead in the final 2:17 of the third quarter to take a 28-27 lead into the fourth. It was Westminster’s first and only lead of the game.
“I used to be a history teacher, and I know history repeats itself. I told them [entering the fourth quarter] that we were not going to let this happen again,” Mavericks coach Heather DeWees said. “The fires were still burning from what happened in , and we knew we had to respond. This game was redemption; not really redemption against Westminster, but redemption for ourselves.”
The Mavericks looked like a new team in the fourth quarter. Just 38 seconds in, freshman Emma Penczeck made a layup to give Manchester Valley the lead back. Seniors Taylor Leaman and Lucas both made layups on the next two possessions to run the lead to 33-28 with 6:22 left. After Julianna Lesher hit a jumper for Westminster, Bowman hit two jumpers of her own on the next two Mavericks possessions to run the score to 37-30 with 4:02 left to play. Westminster never got closer than four points after that.
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“I have so much confidence in our team, and I knew we would come back,” Lucas said. “I think seeing us enter the fourth quarter trailing fired us up a little. We weren’t focusing [in the third quarter], and they played a great quarter. We started doing the little things, like communicating and helping on defense, and it started to pay off for us.”
The Mavericks now face Howard, ranked second in the Baltimore Sun’s girls basketball poll on the road. DeWees knows the Lions will be a challenge, but she thinks her team is ready.
“They have a very good team, and they are very well-coached. In the playoffs, you try to do what you’re good at, and hide what you’re not,” said DeWees. “It’s going to be a good basketball game, and we look forward to that.”
Westminster coach David Urban said the lack of size was what ultimately did in his team.
“Rebounding is the key, and we had no one over 6 feet,” said Urban. “We have a very scrappy group, and we made it a battle. In the end, we forced some shots that didn’t fall. I am very proud of these excellent young ladies. We had an outstanding year.”
Wes: Whitehead 3, McWilliams 2, Kindle 10, Rosewag 2, Stauder 2, Speigle 1, Gassman 11, Lesher 6. Totals: 14 3-4 37
MV: Penczek 4, Stottlemire 2, Meredith 2, Kresslein 2, Chopper 2, Bowman 15, Lucas 13, Leaman 4. Totals: 20 1-1 44