With 9 seconds remaining Kennedy Clarke dribbled the ball out from a swarm of Peak Performance opponents, and her squad managed to hold on to the ball and the lead (49-42) before the final buzzer sounded to signal the end of their season and their championship run was complete. Maryland Blazers 2020 captured the Gold Bracket Championship at The National Championship sponsored by National Exposure in their final game together as rising seniors for 2019-2020. The players, coaches, and parents erupted together, shouting their excitement at a close to a hard-fought victory and summer basketball competition. Showcase season ends when student-athletes finish the summer following their junior year.
It truly was a group effort as the team collected a total of 32 rebounds, 10 steals, and 9 assisted baskets. Jocelyn Fogle ('21) led the way with 9 rebounds (7 defensive) & 6 points, and Satori Valentine (4 rebounds, 3 assists) finished with a team high 18 points which included knocking down 5 foul shots in a row during the waning minutes. Madyson Hinton got the team off to a strong start scoring all six of her points in the opening minutes of action and chipped in 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
The game appeared to be well in hand with two minutes remaining in the first half. Blazers were cooking on all cylinders forcing turnovers with its full court pressure defense and turning the opposition over multiple times in consecutive possessions. At half, Blazers led 31-16. However, at the opening of the second half, Peak Performance, showed its resolve to get back into the game. Eventually they had trimmed the lead down to a 3 point difference, getting things to fall behind the arc and forcing Blazers to rush their offensive possessions. The turning point? Valentine found herself trapped on the left side line, but instead of passing the ball out, chose to attack one of the defenders and got to the basket with a foul on the layup. She dropped 1of 2 free throws, and then the Blazers righted the ship putting pressure of their own on their opponents.
This game was a true team effort as everyone stuffed the stat columns in multiple ways, as has been characteristic of the last 10 games over the past two tournaments. Kalani Corkeron finished well at the rim and chipped in 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, & 1 assist. Nia Thweatt showed her lightening quickness and knocked key buckets off the dribble and the catch to chip in 6 points, 2 steals, 1 rebound. Her twin, Lindsay Thweatt, had the move of the night with a nifty reverse layup in traffic, which has become signature for her in showcase season action. Lindsay chipped in 4 points, 2 rebounds. Saniya Greenhow continued her hot and timely shooting pushing the lead up to 16 in the first half with a 3 point shot off the top of the key and snagging two rebounds. Clarke was solid making all of the key plays down the stretch including a team-high 3 steals, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and knocking a free throw. 6'2" AbbyGillespie rounded out action with 2 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot.
Including the action at USJN 17U National Championships, 2020 Maryland Blazers finished the last two weeks in July with 8 wins and 2 losses.