A year ago, Cheyenne Davidson watched from the stands as Glenelg's girls basketball team lost the state Class 1A championship game.
She got a little closer to the action last night at UMBC.
The 6-foot-1 sophomore scored eight of her team's 10 fourth-quarter points, and the sixth-ranked Gladiators held off late-charging Southern-Garrett County for a 45-42 victory and their second Class 1A title in three years.
On a night when its outside shooting took a holiday, Glenelg (19-7) used defense and inside scoring to secure its seventh straight victory and ninth in the past 10 games. Eight of the Gladiators' second-half baskets were layups, including all five in the fourth quarter.
"I told [assistant coach] Chad [Meushaw] early in the season that we had to establish our inside game because we needed the high-percentage shot when we're not shooting well, which happened tonight," said Glenelg coach Ciaran Lesikar.
Hamilton, who played on the JV last season and came off the bench last night, played through her usual nervousness and delivered.
"She's good, and as soon as she starts believing it, I really think she's going to step up," Lesikar said.
Southern (21-6) opened the fourth quarter with a 6-2 run that narrowed Glenelg's lead to 37-35 with 5:19 remaining. The Gladiators came back with their own 6-2 run -- Davidson had all three baskets -- for a 43-37 lead with 4:07 left.
Glenelg missed its next four shots and had two turnovers as Southern cut the deficit to 43-42 on Ashley Liller's basket with 40 seconds left. Southern chose not to foul -- the Rams had only three team fouls -- and Glenelg's Chela Hamilton drove the baseline for a layup with eight seconds left. Liller, who had a game-high 21 points, took a shot from half court that was partially deflected.
Southern had five players in double figures in Friday night's semifinal victory, but only Liller posted double digits last night.
"All year long we've had at least three, sometimes four, kids in double figures, and that wasn't there tonight," Southern coach Don Stemple said. "That's a credit to Glenelg's defense."
With the score tied at 20 with six minutes left in the third quarter, Glenelg's defense established itself and turned the game around. The Gladiators scored eight straight points -- the last four when Heather Young and Chrissy Starcher converted their own steals into baskets -- for a 28-20 lead with 4:32 left in the quarter.
"That run we had in the third quarter was the most important one," said Lesikar, whose team took a 35-29 lead into the final quarter. "That gave them the confidence they could win this game."
Glenelg moves to the more competitive Class 2A next season, but returns its top four scorers from last night's game. Davidson (10 points), Starcher (eight) and Alli Biggs (eight) are sophomores, and Hamilton (nine) is a freshman. Also, the Gladiators' JV team was undefeated in Howard County.
The game ended the high school careers of senior starters Heather Young and Erin Edell, and also Sarah McGill.
"This means everything to me and the girls," said Young, who had seven points. "I love this team, and seeing them win a championship with me feels really, really great."
Added Lesikar: "I'm really proud of the way they fought and the way Heather has really willed them through these playoffs. She's constantly talking it up, doing anything she could possibly do to help. We're going to miss her."
S-- Liller 21, Bosley 2, Gregg 2, Reeves 5, Flanagan 9, Dugan 3. Totals: 16 9-13 42. G-- Starcher 8, H. Young 7, Hamilton 9, Biggs 8, Davidson 10, J. Young 3. Totals: 21 2-8 45. Half: G 19-18.