GREENBELT – For the past three seasons, the same two teams have faced each other in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) Girls Basketball 4A South Regional Finals. In 2016, Parkdale High School finally bested Eleanor Roosevelt in a shocking 45-42 victory, leaving a sour taste in then-sophomore Ashia McCalla’s mouth.
Now, as one of the senior leaders for the Lady Raiders, McCalla said she made it clear with her teammates that they needed to remind their opponents who has been the dominating force in girls’ basketball in the county.
“It’s always been a back-and-forth thing that they think that they can beat us,” McCalla said. “But we made it a point that they will never beat us ever again.”
It was a complete performance, including three players scoring in double-figures, where the Lady Raiders never trailed the whole game. There was no formal plaque presentation after Roosevelt defeated Parkdale 57-46 to win their third regional title in four years on March 3. It was expected, in their opinions, to win as they inch one step closer to completing their ultimate goal: winning a state championship.
Usually, a slow starting team, Roosevelt (20-3) shutout the Lady Panthers for more than 10 minutes, not even allowing a layup. Much of the credit goes to six-foot center Dainajoy McFarlane, who scored nine of her 11 total points in the first half.
Since the junior accepted a more prominent role, she has been dynamic at clogging up all the passing lanes and limiting damage from opposing teams’ post players, said Eleanor Roosevelt Head Coach Delton Fuller.
“She’s bigger than everyone but (Parkdale) had someone who matched her size today,” McCalla said. “But nobody can match her strength and she capitalized on that.”
“It’s an accomplishment for me to work so hard for it and to help out my teammates is my biggest goal besides getting a (championship) ring,” McFarlane said. “I finally show them that I can finish their shots and they do not have to worry.”
Parkdale (17-6) scored their first points with six minutes remaining in the second quarter. Senior Drew Calhoun connected with one of her two three-pointers to jumpstart a 13-2 run. The successful drive allowed the Lady Panthers to minimize the damage going into halftime only down by 12.
The Lady Raiders did not provide any breathing room in the third quarter with McCalla driving in back-to-back layups for six of her team-high 14 points. Roosevelt continued imposing will on their opponents, going on an 8-3 run, including an off-the-backboard layup by senior Nia Scott, enhancing their lead by 24 points.
The Lady Panthers attempted to stage an ambitious comeback late in the fourth quarter with a 15-2 run, as Calhoun contributed nine of her game-high 20 points. Together with senior Amaya Yancey’s six fourth-quarter points, Roosevelt’s lead narrowed down to 11. Quick substitutions by Roosevelt stopped the rally, keeping the Lady Raiders their double-digit advantage as time expired.
Roosevelt's behavior was very businesslike postgame as they headed straight for the locker room after handshakes. There was minor applause once the coaching staff presented the players the regional plaque, but the atmosphere was subdued. The mission is not finished.
“We want to follow the trend of winning and going back to Towson,” McCalla said. “We did everything we could. That was one of our goals, to get back to Towson, and that is what we did. And I’m glad to be one of the team leaders to help get back there.”
Roosevelt will face a stiff challenge in the state semifinals when they face Charles County’s North Point High School (22-4) at Towson University on March 8. The Lady Eagles are currently on a 14-game win streak and have not lost since Jan. 17. However, the Lady Raiders are motivated to regain the state title, a championship that they have not held since 2015.
“We will be tough to beat,” Fuller said. “If we sit on defense and stay disciplined and do what myself and my coaching staff ask of them, we will be fine.”