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SoMeck 4A

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Cardinals steal SoMeck 4A title

By Herb White By Herb White
Correspondent Correspondent

Berry Academy had just enough time to produce a historic basketball win.

The Cardinals overcame a five-point deficit with 20.6 seconds left for a 56-55 victory against Ardrey Kell in the SoMeck 4A tournament final, their first conference title as a 4A program. Berry (23-3) pulled ahead for good on Robert Faison’s 3-point basket with 4.4 seconds remaining and survived a pair of Ardrey Kell (21-6) tries at a game-winning shot.

“As crazy as it sounds, I turned to the guys and said we’re fine,” Cardinals coach Maurice Jones said. “They’ve worked hard, they’re high-character kids, the best group I’ve ever been around and they have each other’s back. Whatever you believe in, they’re always being rewarded for it.”

Berry Academy’s character got a test from the Knights, who had a 53-47 lead with a minute to go but couldn’t hold off the Cardinals’ last-ditch rally.

After Rhyle Scott drained a pair of free throws to push the Knights ahead 55-50, Matt Powell nailed three-point shot to pull Berry to within a basket with 13.3 remaining, and when Ardrey Kell missed the front end of a one-and-one, Faison, who finished with eight points, scored and was fouled on a drive to the hoop and the ensuing free throw for the margin of victory.

“We were just pushing trying to get (the ball) as deep as we can to put pressure on the defense,” Jones said. “It just happened we caught them out of position a little bit, swung it to the big kid, Robert Faison, and he made a play.”

Powell paced Berry Academy with 16 points, followed by Lancaster’s 11. Ardrey Kell’s Steven Santa Ana led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Scott’s 18 and Markel Pollard with 10.

“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” Ardrey Kell coach Mike Craft said. “The play at the end was a big-time play and then (Faison) hit the free throw as well. I’m proud of my guys. They battled. If we hit free throws down the stretch, I think we can put them away, but to their credit, they never gave up and hit some huge threes.”

Girls’ Championship

Ardrey Kell won its first girls’ championship with a 63-36 win against Charlotte Catholic.

The top-seeded Knights (23-4) never trailed and led by as many as 28, cruising to victory as the No. 2 seed Cougars struggled to solve Ardrey Kell’s defensive pressure. Three Knights scored double-figures with Jordan Muhammad tossing in a game-high 16 points, followed by Erin Whalen with 12 and Raven Dean’s 10. Sarah Dudzinski led Catholic (19-8) with 11 points, followed by Sophie Rossitch and Melissa Roulier with 10 each.

“We wanted to set the tone defensively,” Ardrey Kell coach Jennifer McVicker said. “The last game was pretty tight and we’d been stressing defense, defense, defense and we came out with the mind set of play hard.”

Ardrey Kell put Charlotte Catholic in a deep hole early, jumping out to a 22-4 lead after one quarter and a 40-15 advantage at the break.

Berry Academy had just enough time to produce a historic basketball win.

The Cardinals overcame a five-point deficit with 20.6 seconds left for a 56-55 victory against Ardrey Kell High in the SoMeck 4A tournament final, their first as a 4A program. Berry (23-3) pulled ahead for good on Robert Faison’s three-point basket with 4.4 seconds and survived a pair of Ardrey Kell (21-6) tries at a game-winning shot.

“As crazy as it sounds, I turned to the guys and said we’re fine,” Cardinals coach Maurice Jones said. “They’ve worked hard, they’re high-character kids, the best group I’ve ever been around and they have each other’s back. Whatever you believe in, they’re always being rewarded for it.”

Berry Academy’s character got a test from the Knights, who had a 53-47 lead with a minute to go but couldn’t hold off the Cardinals’ last-ditch rally. After Rhyle Scott drained a pair of free throws to push the Knights ahead 55-50, Matt Powell nailed three-point shot to pull Berry to within a basket with 13.3 remaining, and when Ardrey Kell missed the front end of a one-and-one, Faison (eight points) scored on a drive to the hoop and free throw for the margin of victory.

“We were just pushing trying to get (the ball) as deep as we can to put pressure on the defense,” Jones said. “It just happened we caught them out of position a little bit, swung it to the big kid, Robert Faison, and he made a play.”

Powell paced Berry Academy with 16 points, followed by Lancaster’s 11. Ardrey Kell’s Steven Santa Ana led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Scott’s 18 and Markel Pollard with 10.

“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” Ardrey Kell coach Mike Craft said. “The play at the end was a big-time play and then (Faison) hit the free throw as well. I’m proud of my guys. They battled. If we hit free throws down the stretch, I think we can put them away, but to their credit, they never gave up and hit some huge threes.”

Ardrey Kell won its first girls championship with a 63-36 win against Charlotte Catholic. The top-seeded Knights (23-4) never trailed and led by as many as 28 in cruising to victory as the No. 2 seed Cougars struggled to solve Ardrey Kell’s defensive pressure. Three Knights scored double-figures with Jordan Muhammad tossing in a game-high 16 points, followed by Erin Whalen with 12 points and Raven Dean’s 10. Sarah Dudzinski topped Catholic (19-8) with 11 points, followed by Sophie Rossitch and Melissa Roulier with 10 each.

“We wanted to set the tone defensively,” Ardrey Kell coach Jennifer McVicker said. “The last game was pretty tight and we’d been stressing defense, defense, defense and we came out with the mind set of play hard.”

Ardrey Kell put Charlotte Catholic in a deep hole early, jumping out to a 22-4 lead after one quarter and pulling away behind. Erin Whalen led the way with 10 points in the first half, including eight in the first quarter as the Knights rolled up a 40-15 advantage at the break.

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