Atkin­son’s hero­ics give Pa­tri­ots cham­pi­onship

Layup with 4.3 sec­onds re­main­ing se­cures vic­tory in Anne Arun­del fi­nal

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - VARSITY - By Mike Morea

When Deja Atkin­son woke up on Satur­day morn­ing, she knew she had a big bas­ket­ball game to play. Lit­tle did she know she would be the hero for the No. 9 Old Mill girls team.

Atkin­son hit a run­ning layup with 4.3 sec­onds left, got fouled and com­pleted the ed three-point play to give the Pa­tri­ots a 59-57 win over South River in the Anne Arun­del County girls bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onship game over No. 4 South River on Satur­day night a North County High School.

“The play wasn’t even de­signed for me. I got the ball and knew I had to go to the bas­ket,” Atkin­son said. “They were ei­ther go­ing to foul me or I was go­ing to make the bas­ket. I knew that I also had to make that free throw, so I went up there with a strong, pos­i­tive men­tal­ity.”

The win­ning se­quence was the cul­mi­na­tion of Old Mill ral­ly­ing from a 56-52 deficit with 39.7 sec­onds left. Mikiyah Mal­lett, who had a team-high 15 points, in­clud­ing 13 in the sec­ond half, cut the lead in half with a field goal with 31.6 sec­onds left, but missed the en­su­ing free throw. How­ever, the ju­nior fol­lowed her shot, got the re­bound and laid it back in to knot the score at 56.

Af­ter the Sea­hawks’ Kath­leen Sul­li­van made the sec­ond of two free throws to give South River a 57-56 ad­van­tage with 22.4 sec­onds re­main­ing, Old Mill turned the ball over and was forced to foul. But both free throws were missed, lead­ing to Atkin­son’s game-win­ning points.

“That was the tough­est of all of them,” said Old Mill coach Rick Smith, who has now de­feated the Sea­hawks in four of the last six county fi­nals. “That is the kind of games we’re go­ing to have with them. We match up pretty much the same way, it’s a good phys­i­cal game and it’s a good ri­valry we’ve had with them now for the last few years.

Ear­lier this year dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, South River de­feated Old Mill, 56-55, on Jan. 23.

The af­fair wasn’t a nail-biter early as the Pa­tri­ots went into the break with the largest lead at 31-23. Atkin­son and Destiny Gal­loway paced the Old Mill of­fense with nine points apiece, while Ju­lia Fitzwa­ter and Sul­li­van led the South River charge with eight and seven points, re­spec­tively.

South River went on a 9-2 run to open the sec­ond half to cut the Pa­tri­ots’ lead to 33-32 just un­der half­way through the third quar­ter. The teams went back and forth over the next four min­utes as Old Mill clung to a 42-40 lead af­ter three quar­ters.

Sul­li­van made the first eight points in the fourth quar­ter for the Sea­hawks, who were on an 8-4 run to give them a 48-46 lead with just un­der five min­utes to play.

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