Oakland Mills girls basketball had to cap off an exciting season with a disappointing loss Wednesday, March 11, to Oakdale in the 2A state semifinals. (Andrew Conrad/Howard County Times video)
TOWSON, MD — By the time the Oakdale girls basketball team had raced to an 11-2 lead four minutes into Wednesday night's 2A state semifinal at Towson University's SECU Arena, the outcome seemed clear.
The Bears' size advantage, shooting accuracy, sharp passing and unrelenting defense added up to a 57-35 victory and a meeting with Patterson Mill on Saturday at 1 p.m. for the 2A state championship.
"Our program is five years' old," said Oakdale coach Rob Healy, whose Frederick County team was playing in the state tournament for the first time. "We've just been building since that point."
Oakdale senior Christi Labella scored a game-high 20 points, which included shooting 3-for-3 beyond the three-point arc, and 9-for-10 from the free throw line.
"There were a lot of nerves, but that just means we care," Labella said. "We knew we just had to come out and play Oakdale basketball and we'd be all right."
Oakdale's post-combination of senior Liz Moorman (10 points, 5 rebounds) and junior Cameron Pitts (10 points, 19 rebounds) also played a large part in the outcome of the game, despite both fouling out in the fourth quarter.
"I just had a feeling coming into this game tonight shooting that we were calm in our warm up, and I thought 'This is going to be good. We've just got to keep this emotion going.'," said Moorman, who has committed to play for Shepherd University.
That emotion got Oakdale into foul trouble, as the Bears committed 23 personal fouls, but Oakland Mills — which hasn't played in the state tournament since 1998 — also found itself struggling with the big stage, missing 19 of its 29 free throw attempts.
"We were the underdogs all season and it was a surprise seeing us in a tournament like this," Oakland Mills senior Tori Diggs said. "It just goes to show how much potential we had this whole season, even though we lost."
The Scorpions were led in the loss by junior Ny'jayah Lockwood, with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
"It's been a long season, as basketball season is, four months. But these girls never stopped," said Oakland Mills coach Christina Hewitt, whose team finished sixth in the Howard County standings. "We would get knocked down and blown out and they'd come back to practice the next day and pick themselves back up and we'd come back fighting again … these girls are just resilient. They played their hearts out all season."
Diggs scored five points in the loss, including a layup at the buzzer for the final two points of her excellent career at Oakland Mills.
"On a floor like this ... in a big stadium, it's just nice seeing the ball go in the basket," said Diggs, who also collected two assists, two blocks and three steals. "It wasn't falling for me all game, but that was really, really cool."
Scorpions seniors Vanessa Mallory (3-for-4 on free throws, 4 rebounds) and Samantha Davis (Oakland Mills' first basket of the game) also contributed in their final performance with Oakland Mills.