After her team beat Edgewood, 48-45, yesterday in the championship game of the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference, Aberdeen senior guard Tameka McDonald kept focusing on the big picture, but couldn't help but enjoy what the Eagles had just accomplished.
McDonald and the 19th-ranked Eagles happily posed for pictures at C. Milton Wright, celebrating their status as the first-ever UCBAC champion in girls basketball.
The Eagles, who have made two consecutive trips to the Class 2A state semifinals before losing, hope a similar celebration ensues next month in the state championships, but McDonald said last night's title will do for now.
"I am so happy that we are the first team to win this," said McDonald, who scored a team-high 13 points to go along with six rebounds and six steals. "This was a big win because it's all about preparing for states."
The UCBAC is a 14-team, two-division conference comprised of Harford and Cecil County schools.
Aberdeen (20-3) earned its spot in last night's championship as the Chesapeake Division champion, while Edgewood (17-6) was the winner of the Susquehanna Division.
The two teams could meet for a third time - Aberdeen beat Edgewood, 43-41, in mid-December - in the Class 2A East regionals, and the Eagles know exactly what kind of gritty effort to expect from the Rams, who nearly pulled off an improbable comeback.
Edgewood trailed 27-20 at halftime and appeared to catch a break when Eagles star forward Rudi Johnson (12 points, 12 rebounds) went to the bench early in the third quarter with three fouls and her team leading 32-23.
However, the Rams, who got 20 points from sophomore guard Keyana Dargan, were never able to make a run until it was too late.
Trailing 46-34 with 4:20 to play, Edgewood reeled off nine straight points - six on consecutive three-pointers from sisters Keyana and Lemaire Dargan - to cut the Eagles' lead to 46-43 with 23 seconds to play.
Aberdeen's Jacelyn Johnson hit two free throws to seal the game.
"I told the girls that if we want something, we have to go and get it because nobody is going to give it to us," said Eagles coach Brandi Barnes. "I was very proud of them today. They gutted this one out."
No. 15 Aberdeen 78, Harford Tech 66: The Eagles completed a sweep of the UCBAC championship games at C. Milton Wright as 7-foot junior center Robbie Jackson scored 36 points to go along with 17 rebounds and seven blocks to lead Chesapeake Division champion Aberdeen (16-6) over the Cobras (14-9).
The Eagles went on a 21-1 run, with Jackson scoring 15 of those points spanning the first and second quarters to take a 28-8 lead.
Harford Tech, which won the tiebreaker over Elkton to represent the Susquehanna Division, got 25 points from Anthony DeAngelo (25 points) and 24 from Kevin Ewing, but didn't have an answer for Jackson.
Jackson shot 17-for-23 from the field. Senior Phillip Brown added 17 points and Leandre Richardson scored 14. Marlon Jenifer's six points included a half-court bank shot to beat the halftime buzzer.