September 25, 2018
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  • The Severna Park girls scored their second road playoff victory of the week on March 1, this time slaying a giant in the county champion Old Mill Patriots. The victory advances Severna Park to Saturday's 4A East region final at North Point.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    The Severna Park girls scored their second road playoff victory of the week on March 1, this time slaying a giant in the county champion Old Mill Patriots. The victory advances Severna Park to Saturday's 4A East region final at North Point.
  • The Falcons were once again stingy on defense, clogging up the lanes and forcing the Patriots into turnovers and difficult shots.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    The Falcons were once again stingy on defense, clogging up the lanes and forcing the Patriots into turnovers and difficult shots.
  • Jessica Giblin's game-high 15 points included a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute that broke a 42-42 tie.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    Jessica Giblin's game-high 15 points included a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute that broke a 42-42 tie.

Severna Park Girls Oust Old Mill 47-44, Advance To Region Final

Colin Murphy
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March 2, 2018

On Tuesday the Severna Park girls basketball team turned heads with a playoff win over Meade.

On Thursday the Falcons took the 4A East playoff bracket and set it on fire.

Severna Park marched into Old Mill’s home gym Thursday night and stunned the No. 1 Patriots, ending Old Mill’s season and punching a ticket to the region final with a 47-44 win.

Jessica Giblin’s game-high 15 points included a go-ahead 3-pointer with a minute left that broke a 42-42 tie and helped lift the Falcons (17-8) past the Patriots (20-5) and into Saturday’s 4A East region final against North Point.

“It feels amazing,” said Giblin. “It’s great to be the underdog. Nobody expects anything from us. Every night it’s different players. We all did our jobs, and that’s a good thing.”

Fresh off Tuesday’s thrilling defeat of No. 2 Meade, the No. 3 Falcons were riding high and looking to keep the run alive against Old Mill, this year’s Anne Arundel County champion and a perennial region contender that beat Severna Park pretty handily, 44-29, just a month ago, on January 30.

Thursday marked a year to the day that Severna Park ousted Old Mill from last year’s region playoffs in a momentous victory, and although the Falcons graduated all five starters from the 2017 team and welcomed new head coach Kris Dean, this year’s group is writing its own sequel.

“I think we just had really good energy coming off our last game against Meade, and it was two underdog games, and we’re super excited about it, especially since last year,” said junior guard Rachel Spilker, a holdover from last year’s squad along with Giblin, Emily Summers, Rachel Ward, Kelsey Powers and Kayla Minton. “We pulled it together and played team ball.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park girls basketball vs. Old Mill, 4A East Section I final, 3.1.18

Much like they did in Tuesday’s win over Meade, the Falcons played team ball from the opening tip on Thursday, coming out on the front foot with superior energy and putting Old Mill in a hole. Baskets by Spilker, Lena McLaughlin and Julia Ryan and two 3-pointers by Giblin got the Falcons out to leads of 10-2 and 15-4. Ward hit a 3-pointer to put the Falcons up 18-8 at the end of the first quarter.

A defensive battle in the second quarter was interrupted by Powers, who came off the bench, fed McLaughlin for a hoop inside, then drained a short jumper. Severna Park led 22-13 at halftime.

The Falcons bounded into the locker room to a standing ovation. Heads down, the Patriots walked slowly to their locker room to tepid words of encouragement.

Severna Park kept the pressure on in the third. Ryan dished to Summers for a layup, and Giblin hit a deep 3-pointer. Two nice baskets by Ryan, a bucket by Ward off an assist by Jess Albert and an offensive rebound and two free throws by Giblin gave the Falcons a 35-27 lead entering the final frame.

Frustrated thoroughly in the first three quarters, the Patriots mounted a comeback seemingly out of nowhere. They started the fourth quarter on a 13-0 run, getting baskets by Imani Parker, Hannah Franklin (team-high 14 points), Sydney Faulcon and Destiny Galloway to take a 40-35 lead with four minutes left.

The Falcons did not fold. McLaughlin stopped the bleeding with a hoop, and Spilker found Ryan for a basket. After Severna Park’s defense forced an Old Mill turnover, McLaughlin got an offensive rebound and made two free throws to put the Falcons back up 41-40.

Franklin made a tough running floater to put Old Mill back ahead, 42-41. The teams traded possessions without scoring, with Ryan getting a nice block to complete one defensive stand. Giblin made one of two free throws to tie the game at 42-42 with 1:42 left.

The Patriots failed to score on their next possession, and on the other end of the court the Falcons passed the ball around before Ryan found Giblin in the corner with only a second left on the shot clock:

“I didn’t know the shot clock was low,” said Giblin with a laugh. “As I let it go, I heard, ‘Shot clock!’ and I’m like, ‘Oh. My. God.’ Just hoping it went in.”

It went in. The big-time basket put Severna Park up 45-42 with 57 seconds left.

A free throw by McLaughlin made it 46-42, and Old Mill’s Mikiyah Mallet made two free throws to make it 46-44.

Old Mill fouled Ward on the inbounds, and she hit one of two free throws to make it 47-44 with 9.7 seconds left. The Patriots’ attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer was well short, the buzzer sounded, and the Falcons ran screaming into a jubilant embrace at center court.

McLaughlin had a game-high 16 rebounds to go with nine points and three blocks. Ryan finished with nine points, three blocks, three rebounds and three steals. Giblin had six boards to go with her game-high 15 points. Ward had two rebounds along with six points, and Albert had a team-high three assists.

Dean said the team has forged its identity: they work together, and they aren’t afraid of any opponent.

“Once again they’re proving what cooperation does,” he said. “Hard work, and it pays off. They’re believing. I’m proud of them.”

Ryan said everyone became more comfortable in their roles toward the end of the season.

“I think we finally learned how to play with each other, and we’re getting into a groove,” said Ryan. “With the playoffs, it’s like a whole new season and a fresh start. We’re trying to keep it rolling.”

This week’s playoff wins may have seemed like upsets from an outside perspective, or based on seeding, but the Falcons knew they were being taken too lightly.

“I think it’s more, we were underestimated by the rest of the county,” said Spilker. “We wanted to prove them wrong. We did it, and we’re excited about it, and we’re excited for what’s next.”

What’s next is a trip to Waldorf for a 7 p.m. tip in Saturday’s 4A East region final against North Point, a team that has won the region seven of the last eight years. The battle will be a rematch of last year's region final, which North Point won, 71-50.

A berth in the elite eight is a huge accomplishment, and a spot in the final four will require another mighty effort from Severna Park.

Dean is not alone thinking the Falcons are up to the task.

“The whole year, I keep on saying it, we’re getting better every day,” said Dean. “They’re believing what we’re teaching, and they’re executing. That’s the most important thing, right? They were believing earlier on, but the execution wasn’t quite there, and that’s why you play the season. Right now they’re executing, and they’re doing a great job.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park girls basketball vs. Old Mill, 4A East Section I final, 3.1.18

Tip-Ins:

-- Much like they did Tuesday, Severna Park’s reserve players brought positively insane energy to the sidelines, mixing robust cheering with hilarious antics to fortify the team’s spirit.

Dean said that’s also been an improvement from the beginning of the year. During a mid-year film session, he noticed the bench was lacking energy. He showed them some video clips of hyped college bench players, and they took it and ran with it.

“It’s been fun. These girls are great,” said Dean. “It’s going to sound crazy, but we look at film two or three times a week, and at one point we looked at film of our bench, and we said, ‘This can’t happen. We’re too good, too talented to sit there dead on the bench.’ I showed them a few clips of men’s NCAA basketball benches, and they said, ‘We can do this?’ You can do whatever you want, we just need to have some energy, and that’s another part of execution. They’re having fun.”

The hysterical merrymaking of Carson Kraycik, Campbell Kline, Delaney Ott, Kayla Minton, Camryn Chew, Kaila Stasuli and Hailey Betch, as well as any of the minutes-leaders who are out of the game at any given point, has uplifted the whole team.

“Our bench is amazing,” said Giblin. “That’s what kept us in the game.”

-- Asked about his assistant coaches Leo Latonick, Destiny Jacobs and Meredith McAlister and JV coaches/varsity assistants Pat Carr and Donny Williams, Dean said they have been a huge part of the team’s success.

“These coaches are great,” said Dean. “Knowing them is the key. I know what they want, and they know what I want, and it’s working.”


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