Four Harford County girls basketball teams went to the court Thursday night, but just one, C. Milton Wright, found victory to keep alive its journey toward a state title.
The Mustangs (20-2) beat visiting Aberdeen, 46-30, in the Class 3A North, Section II final. CMW will host Towson on Saturday at noon for the 3A North Region title.
Meanwhile, Joppatowne, which was enjoying its best season in nearly a decade, saw its season end in the 1A East, Section I final. The Mariners (19-3) were beaten by visiting Coppin Academy, 59-48. The loss ends the Mariners season at 19-3.
Fallston also saw its season end, losing at Elkton, 46-40, in the 2A East, Section I final. The Cougars season ends at 8-13.
At CMW, senior center Sydney Bukowski scored 15 points, but it was her 10 blocked shots that were more impressive as the Mustangs beat Aberdeen for the third straight time.
It was also the Mustangs third straight region playoff win over Aberdeen.
Outside of the first 30 seconds, when Aberdeen (20-3) rebounded its own missed four shots, CMW was the aggressor.
Aberdeen's Anija Stancell capped that with a three-point shot, but that was the last time the Eagles led.
“I knew that we had to keep it really high energy because we knew Aberdeen would come out really hard with intensity and we know that it’s a big rivalry,” senior guard Moriah Snyder said. “Really just keep the ball moving, setting off ball screens and really just the movement on the offense.”
The Mustangs came back and on Latasha Prather’s three-point play, led 13-6, with 2:02 left in the opening quarter.
Aberdeen called timeout and out of it, outscored CMW 4-2, but the Mustangs led 15-10 after one quarter.
The Mustangs aggressive, match up, 2-3 zone defense gave Aberdeen trouble. Very few open shots were available and when the Eagles got the ball inside, Bukowksi was there to block or alter the shot.
“They [CMW] played perfect defense, I couldn’t have asked for anything else,” Mustangs coach Becky Dutko said. “They were talking, they were moving with the passes, their defense is just unbelievable at this point.”
The Mustangs offense, meanwhile, was finding success in and out of the paint. Moriah Snyder and Sydney Frank made a three-pointer each in the second quarter and Bukowski added four points to extend the lead to 14, 30-16, at the half.
The Mustangs did struggle at the foul line in the first half, making 5-of-14. In the second half, they shot and made 10-of-11 for a 15-for-25 total in the game. On the contrary, Aberdeen attempted six and made three.
“Foul shots are always important, sometimes kids walk up to foul line, they’re tired and they don’t focus as much,” Dutko said. “Just bring them back into the game and have them focus on what they are doing.”
The Mustangs lead grew as high as 18, 38-20, in the third quarter, but Aberdeen used a 6-0 spurt to close the quarter and keep the game in reach, trailing by 12, 38-26. Amanda Bryant came off the Aberdeen bench to score a two-pioint basket at the buzzer.
CMW quickly squashed the Aberdeen momentum, scoring the first four points in the final quarter to push the lead to 42-26. The Eagles scored just four points in the quarter as the Mustangs settled in for the 16-point win.
Snyder led the Mustangs with 18 points and Prather finished with seven. Stancell paced Aberdeen with 13 points and Jae DeVeaux was held to seven.
“I think we had good shots, but just when we released off the hand, they just weren’t good coming off the hand,” Aberdeen coach Amber Milnes said. “I think we were trying to make last minute adjustments and we were over-thinking number 12 [Bukowski]. We overthought her, we knew that she was there and I think we were too, concerned about her blocking our shot instead of just taking it strong to the hole.”