Manchester Valley and Westminster's girls basketball teams know how to play a close game, perhaps more common now that they share the same 3A West classification.
They're currently two of the county's top contenders and the last time they played, Man Valley won with ease. On Wednesday, Westminster didn't let the Mavericks get away easily in the Manchester Valley Holiday Hoops tournament final.
The Mavs edged the Owls 44-37, but Westminster had the lead with less than two minutes remaining. Junior guard Mackenzie DeWees knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, and senior guard Jayce Klingenberg sunk two free throws to push the Mavs ahead down the stretch.
"Westminster played very well tonight and did an absolutely phenomenal job coming in prepared to play us," Mavs coach Heather DeWees said. "Playing teams like that is good for us. It's positive and like I told them, you may see them four times during the season and as much as you don't want to see a team like that four times, the positive part of it is that they're going to make you better and force you to improve your game.
"Tonight, I think that's what Westminster did, they're going to force us to examine some things in our game and reinforce some things we're teaching and hopefully by the next time we play them, we'll be a little bit better at those things and it will be another good game."
Mackenzie DeWees was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player and was joined on the all-tournament team by Mavs sophomore guard Josey Klingenberg, Westminster freshman forward Lillian Harris, and junior guard Sydney Popielski.
DeWees hauled in 17 rebounds and five steals, Jayce Klingenberg had three assists and Josey Klingenberg had six rebounds and two assists.
Westminster led MV 25-21 at halftime, and Popielski drained 3-pointers to end each of the first two quarters. She had nine of her team's 25 points at the break, while DeWees had 14.
Senior Arianna Cottom sunk a 3 late in the third to tie the game at 28-28, but Man Valley inched its way back to lead 33-29 to start the fourth. The Owls used an 8-0 run to catch up, and take a 37-35 lead late in the game, before DeWees and Klingenberg finished off the scoring.
Harris scored a team-high 11 points for the Owls. Cottom and Popielski had nine points apiece, and both player hit three 3-pointers for their total.
"We knew what we were coming into and we prepared for the game a lot," MV junior forward Tayler Warehime said. "It just comes down to strategy and who's the smarter team and knowing when to know when to go and when not to go and just know that you have each other's backs."
The holiday tournament has been going strong for 36 years and was originally hosted by North Carroll. Manchester Valley took over as host after North Carroll closed following the 2015-16 school year.
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What used to be a 16-team, four-bracket tournament has been downsized to eight teams. Marriotts Ridge, Middletown, Westminster, and Man Valley made up the girls team participants and Fallston, Hereford and MV's boys teams completed the tourney.
Ben Franklin's boys dropped out of the tournament on Tuesday, causing some changes in the schedule. Man Valley's boys played two games Wednesday instead of one on each day.
Warehime is a former North Carroll student who transferred to Man Valley following the closure. The change in the tournament's location did not have any effect on her attitude, though.