Jaylen Marbley got the rebound as the final seconds winded down in Thursday’s MIAA B Conference basketball semifinal. The Chapelgate Christian senior guard made his way down the court, dribbling the ball as the Yellowjackets faithful started cheering loudly.
Marbley flung the ball up in the air as the buzzer sounded. And, a celebration, 12 years in the making, was finally on.
Chapelgate defeated St. Paul’s, 63-57, to advance to Sunday’s league championship match. Senior guard Julian Ludwig scored 21 points for the Yellowjackets (24-7 overall), and Timi Akisanya and Zef Fuanya each finished with 11.
The Western Howard County school rallied in the second half to wipe out a 13-point deficit to earn a title date with St. Mary’s, Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at UMBC’s CEI Arena. The defending champ and 11th-ranked Saints defeated Archbishop Curley, 55-47, in the other semifinal Thursday.
It will be Chapelgate’s first championship game appearance since 2011 when it completed a back-to-back run as MIAA C titlists.
With 11 seniors, nothing less than a championship game berth was expected for Chapelgate, which lost to Annapolis Area Christian at the buzzer in last year’s quarterfinals.
“It really frustrated us…we came together and said next year, we’re going to win it all,” said Marbley, who finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. “We all focused on that one goal. We were determined the whole year.”
Trailing 19-6 late in the first quarter and 38-30 at halftime, Chapelgate went on a 18-5 tear in the third quarter and never trailed again. Fuanya (8 rebounds, 3 steals) sparked the run with eight points in the quarter including a layup off a loose ball win by the Yellowjackets.
Ludwig, who drained five 3-pointers Friday, scored off a pass from Marbley, extending Chapelgate’s advantage to 60-49 midway in the fourth. St. Paul’s (13-16) rallied with eight straight points, capped with Marquel Paschall’s reverse layup, to pull to 60-57 with 1:27 left.
Senior Jevon Davis, who threw a ball off a St. Paul’s player before going out of bounds, hit two free throws with 28.1 seconds remaining and Marbley added another with 17.3 seconds. Chapelgate won all three matches with St. Paul’s this season.
“The only adjustment we made was really play hard,” said Yellowjackets coach Frick Frierson. “Just play man, run the zone offense and get after it. They feed off each other.”
After having its league-win streak snapped by Curley on its home court a few weeks ago, St. Mary’s was determined not to have its championship reign end in the rematch Thursday in front of a standing room only audience in Annapolis.
Senior forward Aiden Harris, who will for play for St. Francis (PA) next season, posted a game-high 22 points for St. Mary’s (23-7), and Jaden Bryant added 14. Jeremiah Koger finished with 18 points for Curley, and Omarr Smith Jr. had 13.
The Friars (17-8) defeated the Saints, 49-45, at the start of February, ending a streak of 34 straight B Conference victories (including playoffs) by St. Mary’s. The Saints were engaged from the start Thursday, especially in the third quarter, turning a 31-25 halftime lead into 43-34 entering the fourth.
St. Mary’s, winners of 41 of 42 decisions in MIAA B play (including playoffs), will try Sunday to become the first back-to-back champ in the league since Gerstell (2018 and 2017). The Saints swept Chapelgate, 69-58 and 54-52, during the regular season.
MIAA B CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
CHAPELGATE CHRISTIAN 63, ST. PAUL’S 57
St. Paul’s - Paschall 19, Douglass 16, Stinespring 10, Cooper 6, Johnson 6. Totals 20 13-16 57.
Chapelgate - Ludwig 21, Akisanya 11, Fuanya 11, Marbley 11, Sabbat 5, Davis 4. Totals 24 10-24 63.
St. Paul’s 19 19 5 14 - 57
Chapelgate 13 17 18 15 - 63
NO. 11 ST. MARY’S 55, ARCHBISHOP CURLEY 47
Curley - Jeremiah Koger 18, Smith 13, Jermaine Koger 5, Yates 5, Kemori 3, Logan 3. Totals 15 6-8 47.
St. Mary’s - Harris 22, Bryant 14, Smith 7, Lomax 6, Wolfe 6. Totals 21 9-13 55.
Curley 14 11 9 13 - 47
St. Mary’s 16 15 12 12 - 55