July 16, 2018
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  • A year removed from graduating five starters, Jessica Giblin (20), Julia Ryan (21), Lena McLaughlin (24), Emily Summers (4), Rachel Spilker (5) and the Severna Park girls basketball team put together an improbable playoff run all the way to this year's 4A East region final.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    A year removed from graduating five starters, Jessica Giblin (20), Julia Ryan (21), Lena McLaughlin (24), Emily Summers (4), Rachel Spilker (5) and the Severna Park girls basketball team put together an improbable playoff run all the way to this year's 4A East region final.

Severna Park Girls Defy Expectations In Run To Region Final

Colin Murphy
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March 9, 2018

WALDORF, Md.—The Severna Park girls basketball team could have easily had a down season and no one would have wondered why. The excuses were all right there, readymade to fall back on. New coach. Graduated all five starters from last year’s region finalist team. Young roster with no chance to hang with the county’s elite.

But the Falcons blazed a different path. First they stacked up victories in the regular season. Then they went completely off-script in a thrilling playoff run. It culminated on March 3 when Severna Park fell to North Point 54-30 in the Class 4A East region final to bring an end to an outstanding season.

“I think it shows that we have a lot of dedication as a younger team in the county, and we didn’t come out afraid like everybody thought we would,” said junior Rachel Ward.

“We’re fighters,” said senior Jessica Giblin. “We don’t give up. We never surrender.”

Said head coach Kris Dean, “We just kept on preaching, one day at time, keep working, keep getting smarter and learning the game, and these girls have come so far. I’m proud of them.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park girls basketball vs. North Point, 4A East region final, 3.3.18

In order to reach the region final, the Falcons knocked off two teams they had lost lopsided games to in the regular season — Meade and Old Mill — in the span of three days.

It was an improbable ascent for a team that just a couple months ago did not register as one of the best in the county, much less in the region.

The Falcons backed into 2018 as losers of four straight, owning a 3-5 record and not looking much like a team that had grandiose end-of-season plans.

Then they came alive. Severna Park racked up seven straight wins to start the new year, including a January 9 win over Chesapeake — also a region finalist this season in the 3A East — and a January 12 win over rival Broadneck.

Severna Park hit speed bumps in double-digit losses in January to the county’s top teams — Meade, Old Mill and South River — but the foundation was laid. The Falcons had confidence only they knew about.

“From the beginning of 2018 when we won seven straight games, that’s when we started realizing, like, ‘Hey, we can actually win games when we put all our heads together,’” said senior Emily Summers. “That was our turning point.”

They rebounded to win their final three games of the regular season before handily defeating Glen Burnie in the first round.

To advance further, they’d have to win on the road, which they did not once, but twice — slaying a pair of giants in the Mustangs and Patriots.

Old Mill had its season ended by Severna Park on its home court for a second year in a row, and somehow it didn’t feel like an upset. Calling the Falcons a Cinderella seemed unfair. They didn’t catch a lucky break or find some unexplained magic.

They game-planned, executed mercilessly and willed the wins into existence.

The Falcons believed in themselves, and that’s all that mattered.

“No one believed in us to beat Meade,” said Giblin, “and definitely no one believed in us to beat Old Mill.”

“We didn’t have anything to lose since we lost a lot of our leading scorers and a lot of our leadership from last year,” said Ward. “It was good that we were able to come together and show everyone that we were able to do what last year’s team was able to do.”

Junior point guard Rachel Spilker had full agreement from her teammates in saying the coaches were unrelenting in their support and encouragement of the girls’ ability.

“We had coaches that wanted to push us and knew our potential,” said Spilker. “They believed in us, so we believed in ourselves, and we got here. It was a super fun season with good coaches that pushed us and a good team that we all loved each other and had fun. We’re happy that we got here.”

Naturally there was a sense of disappointment to not advance past the Eagles and into the state’s final four. At 22-4, North Point are worthy region champs and accustomed state contenders, having won the region seven of the last eight years.

But the trip Waldorf to compete in the region final was also a validation of the Falcons’ efforts.

“Their work ethic shows, coming this far,” said Dean.

With a final season record of 17-9, the Falcons return everyone except seniors Giblin and Summers, including starters Spilker, Julia Ryan and Lena McLaughlin and key reserves Jess Albert and Kelsey Powers.

When the season starts next year, the Falcons will have more big-game experience than any team in the county.

“Getting this experience is huge for these younger girls,” said Dean. “We had high expectations this year, which I don’t think anyone in the county or anyone around did for us, which we loved, and we kind of fed on that. We have high expectations now, and we’ll do a lot of work in the offseason, and we’ll be ready to go next year.”

The 2017-2018 Severna Park girls basketball players are Rachel Ward, Jessica Giblin, Emily Summers, Rachel Spilker, Julia Ryan, Lena McLaughlin, Jess Albert, Kelsey Powers, Camryn Chew, Campbell Kline, Delaney Ott, Carson Kraycik, Kayla Minton, Kaila Stasuli and Hailey Betch. They are coached by Kristofer Dean and assistant coaches Leo Latonick, Destiny Jacobs, Meredith McAlister, Pat Carr and Donny Williams.

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park girls basketball vs. North Point, 4A East region final, 3.3.18

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