September 25, 2018
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  • The Severna Park girls basketball team celebrated an epic 52-50 win over Meade on Tuesday night. Severna Park, which fell by 22 points to Meade on January 23 advances to Thursday's Section I final against Old Mill.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    The Severna Park girls basketball team celebrated an epic 52-50 win over Meade on Tuesday night. Severna Park, which fell by 22 points to Meade on January 23 advances to Thursday's Section I final against Old Mill.
  • Sophomore Lena McLaughlin scored a game-high 18 points to go with 14 rebounds in the victory. “It was really more of a team win,
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    Sophomore Lena McLaughlin scored a game-high 18 points to go with 14 rebounds in the victory. “It was really more of a team win," said McLaughlin. "Everyone else passed me the ball, they found the open passes, which made that possible, so it was just great all-around for everyone.”
  • Severna Park's Julia Ryan (21), Rachel Spilker (5), Emily Summers (4), Lena McLaughlin (24) and the entire Falcon roster used a smothering zone defense to stifle Meade. “They are really showing up,
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    Severna Park's Julia Ryan (21), Rachel Spilker (5), Emily Summers (4), Lena McLaughlin (24) and the entire Falcon roster used a smothering zone defense to stifle Meade. “They are really showing up," said Falcons head coach Kris Dean. "They did a great job this week preparing for this team. I’m really proud of them.”

Severna Park Girls Knock Out Meade In Playoff Upset, 52-50

Colin Murphy
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February 27, 2018

It’s been a season of growth for the Severna Park girls basketball team, and Tuesday night’s 4A East playoff game against Meade was the ideal stage for the Falcons to take their biggest step yet.

Lena McLaughlin poured in 18 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, Jessica Giblin added 13 points, six rebounds and three steals, and Severna Park ended the Mustangs’ season with an epic 52-50 playoff upset.

The No. 3-seeded Falcons (16-8) advance to Thursday’s Section I final against Old Mill as winners of five straight and fearless vanquishers of the No. 2 Mustangs on their own floor.

“I know before the game, [senior Emily Summers and I] both said we’ve got to play as hard as we can, because you never know when it’s going to be our last game,” said Giblin. “We play better when we’re smiling and having fun, and you definitely saw that out on the court.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park girls basketball vs. Meade, 4A East playoffs, 2.27.18

From the opening tip Tuesday, the Falcons were clearly a different team than the one that suffered a 54-32 loss to the Mustangs just over a month ago on January 23. Severna Park executed its offense crisply, whipping one-touches around the perimeter to find entry passes to bigs McLaughlin and Julia Ryan in the post.

Head coach Kris Dean said the Falcons changed their offense after their last meeting with Meade in order to take advantage of their depth.

“We changed up everything from the last time we played them,” Dean said. “We had to. We changed the offense up a little bit because we needed everybody to be a threat on the floor. We cooperated really well tonight.”

McLaughlin, a sophomore who earned her starting role midway through the season, was the fulcrum of those changes on Tuesday. She scored 10 of her 18 points in the first half on a series of layups and short floaters as the Falcons jumped out to a 12-7 lead after one quarter and a 27-14 halftime lead.

Asked about her breakout night, McLaughlin said it was great to perform well as a focal point in a big game.

“I came out and had the best night I’ve ever played,” she said. “All the shots were sinking. It was really more of a team win. Everyone else passed me the ball, they found the open passes, which made that possible, so it was just great all-around for everyone.”

The Falcons showed similar teamwork on the defensive end of the floor, smothering Meade throughout the first half with a merciless zone defense that neutralized the Mustangs’ athletic drivers and forced outside shots.

“We knew their strengths coming in, so we prepared, specific to them,” said Summers. “We had great communication on the back side to help stop penetration, but overall we just really worked well together, and that’s why we succeeded.”

The Mustangs were charged up out of halftime, and they made a run, outscoring the Falcons 19-9 in the third quarter and closing to within three points when Excellanxt Greer hit a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut Severna Park’s lead to 36-33.

The Mustangs’ run continued into the fourth, and they briefly took a 41-40 lead on a 3-pointer by Jamaica Williams.

From there, the Falcons responded, as Giblin made a steal and sank two free throws, finished a layup and then hit two more free throws. McLaughlin made a layup and a free throw, Rachel Spilker hit two free throws, and the Falcons made a great defensive stand to force a bad Meade shot and protect a 47-41 lead.

Up 48-47 with 40 seconds left, Ryan passed to Jess Albert, who made a 12-foot jumper from the left side to make it 50-47. After a free throw by McLaughlin and one by Meade’s Angelois Duncan, the Mustangs’ Destiny Jackson made a layup with 19 seconds left, and Severna Park led 51-50.

Severna Park actually missed five free throws in the final 12 seconds, but Meade lost a rebound out of bounds and had to foul Albert with 2.4 seconds left. Albert made the second free throw to make it 52-50, and Meade’s desperation heave from 65 feet at the buzzer was well short.

The Mustangs were stunned, and the Falcons were jumping and hugging in celebration in front of their bench, a rare road playoff victory in the books.

Albert had seven points along with two rebounds and two assists, while Ryan scored five points and had four assists and four rebounds. Rachel Spilker led the team in minutes with 31 and scored five points to go with five assists while shouldering primary ball-handling duties.

Summers had two points and two steals, Kelsey Powers had two points and a rebound, and Hailey Betch and Rae Ward contributed rebounds as nine Falcons saw minutes in the win.

“Everyone’s a threat on the floor. It’s not just one person. It’s everyone,” said Summers, who noted the animated cheering from the Falcons’ reserves. “A lot of it came from our bench. Our bench was super hype. They kept the energy high, put it straight on the court, and we kept pushing.”

With a massive playoff win now in the column, McLaughlin said the team has progressed immensely since November.

“We’ve improved a lot,” said McLaughlin. “We’ve shown tremendous growth from the beginning, and obviously it showed tonight.”

Dean said the team’s depth is the perfect complement to its focused preparation, which led to exacting execution in Tuesday’s win.

“Being able to play everybody throughout the year, it’s just setting us up for where we want to be right now,” he said. “They are really showing up. They did a great job this week preparing for this team. I’m really proud of them.”

In his first-year as head coach at Severna Park, Dean said he knew early this year he had a good group, maybe even a group that would still be alive and punching in March.

“We knew we had a team that could do something,” he said. “It was just about getting better every day.”

He couldn’t help but smile as he thought ahead to Wednesday’s practice.

“We got better today, and we’ll get better tomorrow.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park girls basketball vs. Meade, 4A East playoffs, 2.27.18


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