HOWARD COUNTY, MD — An already memorable season became even more special for the Glenelg Country boys basketball team this past week.
Coming off an 18-win regular season, which tripled last year’s total, the Dragons capped the 2018-19 campaign with three victories in four days to claim the Maryland Independent Schools Tournament championship. In the title game against Gilman on Friday night, they built an 18-point lead in the first quarter en route to securing a 69-55 triumph.
“The nicest part about winning the championship was that it verified all of the hard work that the kids have been putting in,” second-year coach Garrett O’Donnell said. “Summer workouts, fall workouts, spring workouts, all of that.
“And then it was really nice for Chase [Paar], who was really our leader throughout, to be able to experience winning a championship in his last game.”
Paar, the team’s lone senior and a George Washington commit, morphed into Glenelg Country’s No. 1 scoring option during the final stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. He averaged 17.6 points in the final 12 games, including a season-high 26 points in wins over John Carroll on Jan. 23 and Gilman on Feb. 12. For the season, Paar led the Dragons in scoring at 12.0 points per game.
The 6-foot-8 big man was excellent again in the championship game Friday night, totaling a team-high 23 points to ensure the Dragons (10-8 county, 21-10 overall) maintained their double-digit advantage throughout the contest.
“What you hope a senior does is exactly what he did,” O’Donnell said. “He stayed out of foul trouble, he rebounded, he defended and he just put the ball in the basket. Teams knew we were going to him, and we still got him the ball and he was still able to score, which was the neat thing.”
In addition to Paar’s production, Glenelg Country’s tournament championship run was a product of its defense. Chapelgate scored 27 points in the tournament opener Tuesday, while McDonogh managed 14 first-half points in the semifinals Thursday night. The Dragons’ offense was even worse, scoring 10 points across the first two periods, but their defense kept them within striking distance.
Trailing by two points with 7.4 seconds to play, Glenelg Country kept its tournament championship hopes alive with a steal and then a buzzer-beating layup from Paar to tie the game at 38. In overtime, the Dragons shut out McDonogh to earn the 44-38 victory.
The victory set up a third meeting with Gilman, this time in the tournament title game. And after defeating Gilman twice in the final four days of the regular season, Glenelg Country would not be denied against its MIAA A Conference foe in the postseason either.
The Dragons held an 22-4 lead after eight minutes, then brought a 19-point advantage into halftime and stayed comfortably ahead after the break. Joining Paar in double figures were junior guards Noah Charles and Jarod Robinson, who scored 13 and 12 points, respectively. Fellow juniors Jordan Brathwaite and Igor Yoka-Bratasz, meanwhile, combined for 17 points in the victory.
It’s the talent and production of this junior class that already has O’Donnell excited about next season. Paar will have graduated, but everyone else should return to a program that O’Donnell hopes can build on its most-recent accomplishment.
“I think it will bring us a little bit more notoriety, which is nice,” O’Donnell said of winning the Maryland Independent Schools Tournament championship. “I’m amazed with how many people haven’t heard of us. Being an MIAA A Conference school, I’m still amazed that people say, ‘Well, where are you located?’ So I think that will help a little bit.”
Glenelg Country (10-8 MIAA A Conference, 21-10 overall) — 69, Gilman — 55
GCS — Chase Paar 23, Charles 13, Robinson 12, Yoka-Bratasz 9, Brathwaite 8, Cole Paar 4.
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Halftime: 39-20, GCS