Lady Barons End Clarksburg Girls Hopes of a Deeper Run into the State Final Four
Even though Clarksburg’s 2018-19 season has been one for the record books — winning its first division title in school history and setting a program record with 19 wins — playing for a regional championship was a whole new experience for their relatively young team.
The Lady Coyotes (17-6) fell 50-33 to the Lady Barons (17-7) of Bethesda-Chevy Chase in the MPSSAA 4A West Regional Championship hosted at Richard Montgomery in Rockville Saturday afternoon.
B-CC, who won the regional title last year and again advanced to the state semifinals, showed confidence and composure throughout Saturday’s contest, while Clarksburg struggled with nerves and inexperience.
“We were so nervous,” head coach Sissy Natoli said. “We played like we had never been there before, and we haven't with this team.”
The Lady Barons scored the game’s first points with a three-point field goal just 46 seconds into the first quarter. They would never surrender the lead for the remainder of the game, holding a 12-4 advantage after one period of play.
“I felt like we just [were] out of sync, we missed a lot of layups,” Natoli said. “We don't usually miss a whole lot of layups.”
Clarksburg began to settle in a bit in the second quarter, totaling 10 points of offense. B-CC remained comfortably in front 26-14 at the half, with every score followed by a swell of cheers from their bench and the packed crowd on their side of the gym.
“It would have been interesting to see how we would have fared at home in our own comfort zone, but at the next level, the next round you have to play on a neutral site anyway,” Natoli said.
The Lady Coyotes clawed their way back during the third quarter, closing the Lady Barons’ lead to just 7 points at 29-22 midway through the period. They would trail 36-26 with one quarter to play.
“I was proud of the kids that they didn't give up,” Natoli said. “We just couldn't get a couple buckets to fall at that time. I think if we did it, it would have been a different outcome or at least a closer outcome.”
Clarksburg’s nervous play showed in its free throw percentage — the team only made 11 of 35 from the line, making nine out of 25 in the second half.
“We had opportunities to be able to generate points from the free throw line, but we were just as cold there as we were making our layups,” Natoli said.
Experience paid off for the Lady Barons as they finished off the Lady Coyotes 50-33 for their second 4A West championship in as many years.
Clarksburg’s top scorer was freshman point guard Mia Smith, who posted 11 points during Saturday’s contest. Sophomore point guard/shooting guard Sadejah Smith finished with eight points, while sophomore shooting guard Kaleah Boykin scored six points.
Smith and junior point guard/shooting guard Miki Howson were recently named to the MCPS 4A West All-Division 1st Team by the Montgomery County Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Boykin was named to the All-Division 2nd Team.
While 2019 might not have been Clarksburg’s year to break through to the state semifinals, the team has a lot to be proud of and a lot to build on for next season.
“It was the first time we won 19 games in Clarksburg history, and you take a look at the number of wins with the youth that we have, it's an amazing, amazing season,” Natoli said. “I always tell the kids you're never going to end your season on a win unless you're that state champion, you'd just like to make that run as long as you can and just be a part of the process.”
With only two seniors leaving the Lady Coyotes’ starting five, the future is bright for their young team to build on this past season’s progress and become a confident late-round playoff contender in the years to come.
“I've been just trying to encourage the kids to just play during the offseason and keep working on their game,” Natoli said. “It wasn't our time this year, so I'm hoping that we will regroup from the first game of the season to the last game of the season next year and be ready to go.”
Top: Clarksburg’s freshman point guard Mia Smith (14) brings the ball up court with senior Denise Ventura (5). Smith scored 11 points in Saturday’s loss to BCC in the Regional Championship Game. She was named to the MCPS 4A West All-Division 1st Team by the Montgomery County Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
Next: Bethesda-Chevy Chase’s sophomore Ava Haraldsson (20) during the Lady Barons victory at Richard Montgomery High School on Saturday. The Lady Barons will play in the State Semi-finals on against Old Mill at 5:00 pm on Thursday in SECU Arena at Towson University.
Next: Clarksburg’s sophomore Kaleah Boykin (30) had six points in Saturday’s Regional Championship matchup with BCC. Boykin was also selected to the MCPS 4A West All-Division 1st Team.
Next: Clarksburg Lady Coyotes head coach Sissy Natoli.
Photos by Billy Owens for Germantown Pulse