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Just a few hours after Fallston won a second straight state girls basketball title, the Joppatowne Mariners won their first-ever Maryland state girls basketball title with a 63-46 win over the Smithsburg Leopards in the Class 1A state final at UMBC.

“I’m so proud of the girls, so proud of the team, it’s been a long time coming; it’s a big burden for me to carry the team my father coached,” Mariners head coach Mike Harris said.

The Mariners, with the win, avenged one of two losses the Mariners suffered this season. Joppatowne fell at Smithsburg, 61-40, in a holiday tournament in December.

“The Smithsburg game was really the catalyst that jump started our season,” Harris said.

Harris explained that the Mariners jumped into the Smithsburg Tournament late and the money raised for staying overnight was good for one night, leaving his team with a lot of down time, which included a trip to some outlets and other things.

The result: the Mariners were tired and Smithsburg is a good basketball team.

So, fast forward two and a half months, and Joppatowne is staked to an insurmountable lead, scoring the game’s first 15 points.

Whether they counted on such a start or not, the Mariners had a definite game plan after watching film from December’s loss.

In Saturday’s game the Leopards made 11 three-point shots, but the early deficit was just too much.

In Smithsburg’s December win, it was the inside game that hurt the Mariners. In that game, Harris says there was a short stretch when the Mariners went to a 3-2 zone defense. It caused the Leopards problems.

The Mariners used the defense to open the game and it definitely caused trouble for the Leopards.

The Joppatowne lead grew to 18 with Joppatowne scoring the first six points of the second quarter. The lead was 18 at the half after Zameria Jones’ three-point basket found the net for her team-leading 12th point in the first half.

The Mariners pushed the lead to 20 with Shakara Head’s basket to open the third quarter.

Smithsburg was able to make a brief 12-2 run with four consecutive three-point baskets at the close of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. That cut the Joppatowne lead to 43-35, but the Mariners promptly responded with 15 unanswered points to take its largest lead of the game, 58-35.

Smithsburg put together three more three-point baskets to cut the Mariners lead back down to 14, but that’s as close as the Leopards could get.

“We knew we were going to win this,” said Jones, who tied for game-high scoring honors with teammate Head, each of which had 18 points.

Senior floor general Brittany Thornton said, “This has been our goal for four years.” Thornton closed out her career with a complete game of 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Head added 12 rebounds and Kourtney Lewis-Orr had 11.

Mariners beat Mardela

The Mariners moved into the state championship after a 63-41 win over Mardela Friday night in a Class 1A semifinal.

The Mariners found themselves in a tight battle early, but still led, 17-14, after one quarter.

Late in that opening quarter, Mardela junior Taylor Siggers left the game with a knee injury after scoring 10 of her team’s first 12 points.

The Mariners went on a 15-6 scoring run with Siggers out of the game, busting the close game open.

Joppatowne forward Head scored 11 of her game-high 26 points in the second quarter to lead her team to a 40-22 halftime lead.

It was more of Head in the third quarter as she added eight more points as the Mariners lead grew to as much as 25, 52-27.

It was early in the third quarter that Mardela’s Siggers went to the floor vomiting in front of her own bench, causing a lengthy delay before medical personnel tended to and removed Siggers on a stretcher.

The Mariners showed no signs of tightening up, outscoring the Warriors, 9-6, the final six minutes of the quarter.

Tejah Patton-Hill added 15 points in the win, making three of six attempted three-pointers.

Head had 12 rebounds, while Thornton had a game-high 18 boards.

The Mariners end the year 26-2.

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