After dispatching rival South River in the region final, the Severna Park girls basketball team met its match in the state tournament.
No. 7 Severna Park fell to reigning Class 4A state champion No. 2 CH Flowers on March 6, 55-34.
The Falcons finished 19-6 overall.
The season was the most successful yet in the three-year tenure of head coach Kris Dean, whose teams have produced records of 17-9 in 2017-18, 16-7 in 2018-19 and 19-6 this year for a 52-22 overall mark.
The wins over South River this year were the first for Dean against the Seahawks, and the region title and appearance in the state’s final eight were accomplishments few outside of Severna Park believed would be achieved.
“It really had to do with our senior leadership,” said Dean, noting seniors Chew, McLaughlin and Albert. “That is probably the closest team I’ve ever had in my short 12 years I’ve coached girls basketball. They’re all sisters. They hang out outside of school, they work out together, they do everything together, and it makes a big difference in continuing to get better every day like we preach.”
Dean was asked about the perception from outsiders that Severna Park is just a lacrosse school. He acknowledged that basketball is not the primary sport for many of the players, but it ends up being an advantage for the Falcons.
“They’re talented girls, every single one of them, they’re athletic girls, all the other sports they do. We’re all about the multi-sport athletes,” said Dean. “Collegiate coaches love multi-sport athletes because they’re good at a lot of different movements and strong at a lot of different movements. Part of the reason why we’re so good down the road is we’re learning as we go, because their sport is not basketball, so they learning, but because they’re so good at all these different movements, you see us roll at the end of the season because, ‘Oh, they get it now.’ They’re so talented, and everyone starts contributing.”
By the same token, teams can take Severna Park’s collection of lacrosse and soccer players lightly.
“There are a few teams that get it and respect us,” said Dean. “Some teams, not so much, because of that mentality [that we’re lacrosse players who can’t play basketball]. Even outside of that, outside of other teams, the sport, media, they don’t respect what we do, I don’t think, which is fine. To be honest, I don’t care. The only thing I care about is our girls and our team and whether or not we’re being successful, which we are.”
Chew, who is committed to play lacrosse at Loyola, spoke fondly of the relationships formed in the program.
“This team was a special one,” said Chew. “I have never been part of such a close team. “We bonded like no other, and I think that is the biggest part of why we were so successful, being one big family, and having the best coaching staff! I am most proud of beating South River for the region title — a feeling and day I won’t forget.”
McLaughlin, a rebounding machine who posted double-digit rebounding totals throughout the season, praised the players’ collective commitment.
“The thing I’m most proud of with this team is our dedication to each other,” McLaughlin said. “This team was so motivated to work hard for each other and put in the effort in and outside of practice, and it really paid off. I think one of the best things about our team is that it’s not just one person making an impact every game. We have a lot of talent and heart and our success comes from everyone.”
Albert said the supportive environment the players and coaches maintain allows Severna Park to continually improve and excel.
“I think not only our ability to play well as a team on the court, but also to be really close friends outside of the game made us as successful as we were this year,” said Albert. “We were all able to push each other to work as hard as we could every day at practice. Our coaches told us every day that we had one goal: to get better that day. I think our coaches knew how much potential we had and believed we could do great things from day one. Without their constant encouragement and positivity, we girls wouldn’t have believed in ourselves as much as we did. The thing that I am most proud of was making it to the quarterfinals, especially senior year, it was an incredible way to end the season. I wish I had more time to play with these girls and coaches, but no matter what, I’m never going to forget this team.”