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Amelia Saunders, Josey Shaffer lead Manchester Valley girls basketball to playoff win over Centennial

The Manchester Valley girls basketball team trailed Centennial by five points entering the fourth quarter.

Mavericks seniors Amelia Saunders and Josey Shaffer then played like they didn’t want the game to be their last.

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Saunders and Shaffer combined for 11 points in the final period to lead the No. 5-seeded Mavericks to a 42-33 win over No. 4 Centennial in the opening round of the MPSSAA 3A East Region 1 tournament.

“I told the girls before the game that this wouldn’t be our last game,” Saunders said. “We had energy and we had the momentum in the fourth quarter. I think we wanted it more, and that’s why we won.”

Saunders led the Mavs with 19 points, while Shaffer scored all six of her points in the final period.

Manchester Valley's Amelia Sauders drives the baseline against Centennial's Callie LasCasas in the first half. Manchester Valley defeats Centennial 42-33 in a 3A East, opening round game of the state basketball tournament Friday night in Ellicott City.
Manchester Valley's Amelia Sauders drives the baseline against Centennial's Callie LasCasas in the first half. Manchester Valley defeats Centennial 42-33 in a 3A East, opening round game of the state basketball tournament Friday night in Ellicott City.(Doug Kapustin/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

“I just knew I didn’t want this to be my last game,” Shaffer said. “I knew Westminster was our next game, and I wanted another shot at beating Westminster.”

With the win, No. 5 Manchester Valley (13-8) will travel to No. 1 Westminster (14-6) in the 3A East Region I semifinals. Centennial, meanwhile, ends its season with a 13-10 record.

“It was just one of those nights,” said Centennial head coach Rob Slopek. “I don’t know that we’ve played like this in a while. We couldn’t get going.”

The Eagles couldn’t have asked for a better start to their home playoff game. Two 3-pointers from Brook Anderson and one from Lauren Pellegrini gave Centennial an early 9-2 lead. That was when, however, Centennial’s sharp shooting ended, as the Eagles didn’t make another 3-pointer until late in the fourth quarter when the Mavs had the game locked up. The Eagles were 4 of 17 from behind the arc.

“We just made sure we had a hand in her face at all times,” Saunders said about defending Anderson, who led Centennial with 14.5 points per game this season. “Josey, Tessa (Boswell) and Casey (Meredith) all did a good job on her.”

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“Defense is our strength,” said Manchester Valley coach Heather DeWees. “Only a few teams have scored over 40 points against us. … We’re a defensive team. We spend a lot of time practicing on pressure and when and where to pressure.”

After leading 16-9 after the first quarter, the Mavs got within two points in the second period before the Eagles took a 21-17 lead into halftime. In the third quarter, Eagles sophomore Lauren Pellegrini put the home crowd on its feet after she crossed up a Manchester Valley defender twice and then made a layup in traffic. She led Centennial with 12 points and ends her sophomore season averaging 7.7 points per game.

Centennial's Lauren Pellegrini comes up with a second half steal against Manchester Valley's Josey Shaffer. Manchester Valley defeats Centennial 42-33 in a 3A East, opening round game of the state basketball tournament Friday night in Ellicott City.
Centennial's Lauren Pellegrini comes up with a second half steal against Manchester Valley's Josey Shaffer. Manchester Valley defeats Centennial 42-33 in a 3A East, opening round game of the state basketball tournament Friday night in Ellicott City.(Doug Kapustin/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Trailing 28-23 entering the final period, the Mavs went on a 15-2 run to take a 38-30 lead with less than two minutes remaining. Saunders scored five points in the final period, including a 3-pointer to give the Mavs their first lead of the game. Saunders, who will play at DeSales University in the fall, is the Mavs’ top player, and the Eagles’ defense was tailored to stop her. She ended the game with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting.

“She’s a smart player, so she knows where she needs to be,” DeWees said of Saunders. “She’s unselfish, so she understands how to distribute the ball to open players. She is that step-up type of player. She’s going to be a real asset for DeSales.”

Shaffer, who had only attempted two shots entering the fourth quarter, then scored six straight points on a 3-pointer, a layup and a free throw to seal the victory for the Mavs.

“Josey Shaffer last year didn’t play a lot at the beginning of the year as a junior. She played at the end of the year, and she’s gotten better every single game since then,” DeWees said. “She’s been a cornerstone for our team since then. She’s a good 3-point shooter and finisher, but it’s her defense that is so great for us.”

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Despite the loss, Slopek said he’s “proud” of his senior class, which consists of Anderson, Kristin Parisi, Gigi Castle-Smith, Sarah Sopchick, Olivia Reese and Rasa Welsh.

“I told them Monday that I didn’t want the season to end because of the respect I have for our seniors,” Slopek said. “I can’t speak enough about them, and I’m going to miss them all.”

Manchester Valley’s semifinal game at Westminster will be on Monday at a time to be determined. The Mavs have played Westminster twice this season, with the Owls winning both contests by scores of 43-38 and 36-17.

“We’re ready for redemption,” Saunders said. “We have energy going into that game. We’ve had a great end of the season, so I think we’re going in strong. We’ll do well against them. We’re ready.”

BOX SCORE:

Manchester Valley 42, Centennial 33

MV (13-8): A. Saunders 19, J. Shaffer 6, C. Meredith 6, T. Boswell 5, C. Bowman 2, T. Leaman 2, G. Warner 2.

C (13-10): L. Pellegrini 12, B. Anderson 8, T. Pearson 3, A. Urquiaga 3, C. LasCasas 3, S. Sopchick 2, O. Reese 2.

Halftime: 21-17, C

OTHER SCORES:

Marriotts Ridge 57, Wilde Lake 48

Marriotts Ridge went on a 13-2 run at the turn of the third and fourth quarters en route to the MPSSAA Class 3A East Region I playoff victory over No. 6 Wilde Lake. The No. 3-seeded Mustangs were led by Kendall Bryan, who made six 3-pointers and tallied a career-high 20 points. Emma Miller chipped in with 14 points.

Bryan opened the game hot, tallying eight early points to give the Mustangs a 14-2 lead. The Wildecats, led by senior Kalani Corkeron, then closed the gap in the first half to trail by only three points at halftime. After trailing by 15 points early in the period, the Wildecats went on an 8-2 run, but the Mustangs held them off for the victory.

Corkeron led the Wildecats with 20 points. The four-year starter ends her career with 992 points. The eight-win season is tied for the best season for the Wildecats since 2007-08. Wilde Lake won more games this season than in the last four seasons combined.

Marriotts Ridge advances to the 3A East Region I semifinals at No. 2 Mt. Hebron on Monday. The game is a rematch of their Feb. 21 contest, in which the Vikings defeated the Mustangs, 49-33.

Box score:

MR (16-7): K. Bryan 20, E. Miller 14, E. Morath 7, M. Lee 6, C. Crawford 6, K. Lee 2, A. Windsor 2.

WL (8-13): K. Corkeron 20, M. Swaby-Rowe 14, C. Zimmerman 9, B. Floyd 5,

Halftime: 28-25, MR

Glenelg 56, Winters Mill 41

The No. 6-seeded Gladiators snapped their 16-game losing streak to defeat No. 3 Winters Mill in the opening round of the MPSSAA Class 2A West Region I playoffs.

The Gladiators opened the game with a 18-7 lead, but saw that advantage dwindle away over the next two quarters. They trailed 37-34 heading into the fourth, but the Gladiators outscored the Falcons 22-4 in the final period.

Freshman Lauren LaPointe and Sophia Salafia led Glenelg with 11 points apiece. LaPointe scored seven of her 11 points in the final period, while Salafia’s performance ties her season high. Gabbie Tolbert and Molly Sloan both chipped in with five points in the 22-point fourth quarter.

Glenelg, the lone Class 2A team in Howard County, started the season 3-3 before losing 16 straight to end the season. The win is its first since Dec. 27. The Gladiators will advance to the 2A West Region I semifinals against No. 2 Century. The two teams played once during the regular season, with the Knights winning the contest, 46-44, in overtime.

Box score:

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G (3-20): L. LaPointe 11, S. Salafia 11, G. Tolbert 8, M. Krunkaitis 6, J. Hirsch 6, M. Sloan 5, A. Cook 4, A. Gillespie 3, L. Davis 2.

Halftime: 29-20, G

Oakland Mills 63, Long Reach 19

The No. 3-seeded Scorpions scored a whopping 29 points in the first quarter en route to the blowout victory over No. 6 Long Reach in the opening round of the MPSSAA Class 3A East Region II playoffs.

Iyanna McDuffie scored a career-high 23 points, while Tyasia McDuffie chipped in with 12 points. Senior star Jazmine Washington scored 14 points and dished out nine assists in the win.

Oakland Mills advances to play No. 2 Reservoir in the 3A East Region II semifinals on Monday. The Gators won both regular-season contests by scores of 62-60 and 63-49.

Box score:

OM (12-11): I. McDuffie 23, J. Washington 14, T. McDuffie 12, D. Chisholm 4, K. Browne 4, R. Fairbanks 2, R. Bynum 2.

LR (0-21): A. Nagle 8, T. Whittle 7, S. Sims 2, O. Aofolaju 2.

Halftime: 42-12, OM

Atholton 53, Hammond 34

Natalie Blair scored a career-high 20 points in No. 4 Atholton’s win over No. 5 Hammond. Her previous career high was 17 points. She made two 3-pointers on top of her seven made layups.

Teammate Laila Cowsette chipped in with 11 points, while Hammond’s Maya Woodson recorded a triple-double with 10 points, 18 rebounds and 10 blocks.

The Raiders advance to play No. 1 River Hill in the 3A East Region II semifinal on Monday. The Hawks defeated the Raiders twice this season by an average of 18.5 points.

Box score:

A (7-14): N. Blair 20, L. Cowsette 11, T. Kidd 8, M. Hargrett 7, K. Brown 5, A. Barker 2.

Ha (5-18): M. Woodson 12, J. Fogle 10, K. Brown 8, D. Britt 2, H. Chambers 1, M. Newby 1.

Halftime: 23-13, A

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