The slipper appears to still fit the Middletown High School girls basketball team.
The visiting Knights prevailed, 57-56, in an overtime contest with second-seeded Poolesville to win the Class 2A West Region on Friday night before an enthusiastic standing-room only crowd in Poolesville.
Middletown's crown caps a thrilling Cinderella run through the region that began with an upset of top-seeded Walkersville and sends the team to the state semifinals next week at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“It's just a shame somebody had to lose tonight because that was a great ballgame,” Middletown coach Bill Miskell said.
One key to the victory, he said, was establishing a 10-point lead and then managing it through a steady a defense.
“They're a really good team,” Miskell said of Poolesville. “They shoot the ball so well.”
Miskell said his team, especially the seniors, worked hard to win the championship.
“We had to play everything on the road,” he said. “It's unbelievable. I'm tickled for the kids.”
After spending much of the game behind, Poolesville showed in the fourth quarter why it was the No. 2 seed, erasing a 10-point deficit and outscoring Middletown 21-11.
Kelsey Carnahan gave the Falcons the lead, 48-46, after a rebound, and the home crowd went wild.
The tide changed again with six-tenths of a second left when the Knights' anchor, Connar Kelley, was fouled. She calmly sank both free throws, sending the championship into overtime.
After the game, she said she felt the support of her team while she stood at the foul line.
“All season my team has been there for me,” she said. “So it was really nice to sink those two and continue on our journey.”
The Knights continued their stout defense on the paint during overtime, forcing Poolesville to rely on 3-pointers to build a 53-50 lead only to lose it.
Poolesville's attempts to regain the lead in the final 11 seconds didn't go in the basket.
“It was just a lucky clock,” Miskell said. “They didn't have a lot of time. Eleven seconds seems like a lifetime sometimes. Tonight it went pretty quick for them.”
Falcons coach Fred Swick acknowledged his team faced a challenge when it fell behind and the shooting went cold.
“It's tough to get in a hole that big in a game like this,” he said.
Swick said he was pleased with the higher quality play in the second half.
“We played a nice second half,” he said. “Foul trouble killed us early on. But our kids continued to play the whole game and did a great job.”
The Knights started the game with vigor. Jess Racz made a 3-pointer only 12 seconds into the game.
In a harbinger of things to come, Poolesville answered 21 seconds later with a jump shot by Jocelyn Bodmer.
As it would do throughout the game, Middletown built upon a small, but steady lead.
Poolesville caught up near the end of the first quarter with a trio of 3-pointers, including two by leading scorer Kelly Hughes, and held a 13-12 advantage when the buzzer sounded.
Middletown applied the pressure in the second quarter, largely thanks to hitting 9-of-12 shots from the foul line. Not only did Poolesville's fouling allow the Knights to add easy points, it also put key Falcons in foul trouble.
Poolesville, meanwhile, missed its four free throws and scored only five points by the end of the first half, including a 3-pointer by Anna Murgia.
Middletown tacked on 15 points during the quarter and led 27-18 at the half.
Scoring evened out during the third, but Middletown added one more to its lead and carried a 37-27 score into the fourth.
As before, Middletown was buoyed by its success at the foul line (4-of-6) while Poolesville came up empty in two tries.
Middletown 57, Poolesville 56
Middletown 12 15 10 11 9 — 57
Poolesville 13 5 9 21 8 — 56
Middletown (16-7) Caitlin McLister 16; Jess Racz 14; Brittney George 11; Carly Tolino 11; Connar Kelley 4; Megan Harne 1.
Poolesville (17-5) Kelly Hughes 15; Rosie Barry 12; Shannon Hemp 8; Whitney Carmack 6; Kelsey Carnahan 5; Anna Murgia 5; Jocelyn Bodmer 4.