By: Dr. Richard Midcap
COLUMBIA, MD – Garrett College experienced plenty of success during the 2016-17 women's basketball season. Unfortunately for the Lady Lakers, none of that success came against Chesapeake College.
Top-seeded Chesapeake erased a six-point, fourth-quarter deficit Sunday afternoon while defeating the second-seeded Lady Lakers, 59-55, in the NJCAA Division II Region XX championship game at Howard Community College. Sophomore guard Janice Ladson scored 11 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter to spark Chesapeake's comeback, which gave the Lady Skipjacks three wins in as many tries this season against Garrett (22-5).
"She just put the team on her back in the fourth quarter," Chesapeake head coach Gwen Barnes said of Ladson, who was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player. "She's been our leader the last two seasons."
"They knocked down shots when they needed to," Garrett head coach Roy Boggess said of the Lady Skipjacks. "They just don't stop and they continue to play hard. They have four or five players who are really hard to handle."
Chesapeake won its fifth Region XX title in the last six years while earning the region's berth to the Division II national tournament.
Garrett, which lost to Chesapeake (18-8) in both the regular season and the state tournament, tried to take control of Sunday's title game with a 10-2 run near the end of the third quarter. Hannah Henderson (13 points, 6 rebounds) had three layups during the run, which turned a 35-34 deficit into a 44-37 Lady Laker lead.
Garrett had a 46-40 advantage after three quarters, but that's when Ladson went to work. She scored Chesapeake's first six points of the final quarter to get the rally going before teammate Chantelle Gross (7 points) pulled the Lady Skipjacks even, 49-49, with a 3-pointer.
Chaunte McDowell (19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) put Garrett back in front with a layup, but Ladson drained a jumper to re-tie the game. Ladson then converted a steal off a Garrett inbounds play into a transition layup that put the Lady Skipjacks in front to stay, 53-51.
"I wanted my team to experience nationals," Ladson said of her fourth-quarter heroics. "That's been our goal since Day 1 this season."
Deondria Wimber turned a weak-side offensive rebound into a layup to cap the 6-0 run and stretch Chesapeake's lead to 55-51 with 2:10 remaining, but the Lady Lakers fought back.
Garrett's Mia-Alexis Lloyd (19 points) converted a layup with 61 seconds remaining and the Lady Lakers forced a turnover with full-court pressure. Henderson had a chance to tie the game after being fouled on a drive to the basket, but could only make the second of two free throws to pull Garrett within 55-54 with 50.5 seconds remaining.
The Lady Lakers had a chance for a big stop when Wimber missed a jumper with 30 seconds remaining, but Reeva Jackson was there for there for the offensive rebound and laid it in to give Chesapeake a 57-54 lead. Ladson and Emily Truitt (9 points, 7 rebounds) each split a pair of free throws in the final 14 seconds to seal Chesapeake's win.
Garrett led after each of the first three quarters. Lloyd kept the Lady Lakers in the game early, scoring nine of the team's first 10 points, and Henderson hit a driving layup with 19 seconds remaining in the first quarter to give the Lady Lakers a 14-12 lead after one period.
The Lady Skipjacks opened the second quarter with an 8-2 run as Shahra Madison (9 points, game-high 11 rebounds) converted a pair of offensive rebounds into baskets and Truitt hit her second 3-pointer of the contest. Garrett answered with nine straight points with four different Lady Lakers scoring, but Chesapeake created a 29-29 tie with a 7-2 surge that Madison capped with another basket off an offensive rebound.
Chesapeake finished with a 42-25 advantage on the boards, including 14-4 on the offensive glass.
McDowell broke that tie with a three-point play off a driving layup to give Garrett a 32-29 lead at the half.
McDowell and Lloyd were both selected to the all-region tournament team from Garrett. Truitt joined Ladson on the team from Chesapeake while CCBC-Catonsville's Kai Wyatt and Cecil College's Ny'Jayha Lockwood also made the squad.
Garrett 76, Cecil 69
COLUMBIA, MD – Hannah Henderson (19 points, 17 rebounds) hit jumpers to start and finish a late, 6-0 run that allowed the Lady Lakers to break away from a 66-66 tie with Cecil in Saturday's regional semifinal.
Chaunte McDowell (game-high 27 points, 6 steals) sandwiched a pair of free throws between Henderson's jumpers as the Lady Lakers completed their comeback from a 53-49 deficit after three quarters.
Mia-Alexis Lloyd (13 points, 6 rebounds) and Selena Thurston (12 points) also reached double digits for the Lady Lakers.