Relief washed over Indian Creek senior Molly Bunker when the final buzzer sounded on the Eagles’ 43-37 overtime victory in the IAAM C Conference girls basketball championship Monday afternoon.
After trailing Park by five points with under two minutes to go in regulation, Bunker tied the game when she was left open under the basket with three seconds remaining — a basket she kept telling herself not to miss when the pass came from her sister, sophomore guard Abby Bunker.
Then in overtime, the Eagles (16-9) scored the final six points on a follow shot from Molly Bunker, a converted steal by Abby Bunker, and two free throws from senior forward Haley Selmer, who led the Eagles with 22 points and 24 rebounds.
Molly Bunker said it took a few seconds for that relief to turn to excitement and joy for the Eagles’ second C Conference title and their first since 2017.
“Thank God we made those baskets when it really, really counted and that’s what did it for us,” Molly Bunker said. “We worked hard, we hustled to the very last second and that is what this team is made of. That is what we do. We don’t give up until the last minute and I think that’s why we won the championship.”
In the game at APG Federal Credit Union Arena at Harford Community College in Bel Air, the top-seeded Bruins (14-5) played strong defense and forced 31 Eagles turnovers, but they had no answer for the 6-foot-1 Selmer.
“She’s big and it was a physical game,” Bruins coach Bobby Zirkin said. “I don’t think big people win all that often but at the end of the day, we played a good game, we were up five … and they got a last-second layup to put it into overtime. It was a nice play, just barely squeaked through…. If it wasn’t for that play, we’re the ones who are out there champions.”
The Bruins used their pressure defense to help them rally from five points down to open the third quarter and take a 28-27 lead on senior win Savannah Holmes’ putback with 3:37 left in the third quarter. Senior forward Isabel Angel scored off another rebound and senior guard Abby Kaplan added a couple of free throws to run the lead to 32-27.
Second-seeded Indian Creek didn’t score for the first 6:21 of the quarter as Park scored 10 straight points.
Selmer stopped the run and added a putback before Molly Bunker’s layup gave the Eagles the lead, 33-32, with 22 seconds left in regulation.
Holmes, who led Park with 14 points, nailed a 3-pointer with 14 seconds to go for a 35-33 lead, but the Bruins let Molly Bunker camp under the basket where her sister slipped her the pass to tie at 35.
“We weren’t as aggressive, I think, on both ends of the floor. We were watching a lot on defense,” said Indian Creek coach Casey Corkin of the early part of the quarter, “but they found a way to kind of work those last couple minutes and keep fighting. We called a timeout. We were going to switch up the defense but stayed with what we’d been doing all game. It worked and then we had Molly in there and a couple inside buckets to finish the game.”
The teams traded points to open overtime, but the Eagles never surrendered the lead.
“None of us wanted to lose,” Molly Bunker said. “We went into this game confident and we were ready to win. We worked our butts off this whole season and it was like there’s no way we’re walking out of this gym with our heads down. No regrets.”
The overtime finale seemed appropriate for two teams who had been so close during the season. They split their meetings with Indian Creek winning, 19-17, on Jan. 6 and the Bruins avenging that, 47-43, on Feb. 3. Neither lost to another C Conference opponent, so the combined point differential of two points gave the Bruins the No. 1 seed.
“Last time we played Park, we kind of played a little bit timid and kind of a little scared,” Semler said, “but this time, we really settled down. We had parts where we didn’t play as confident as we know we can, but once we played with that confidence, it really helped us out. Man, it’s great. It’s very rewarding.”
IAAM C CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
(At APGFCU Arena, Harford Community College)
INDIAN CREEK 43, PARK 37
Indian Creek 6 13 8 8 8 — 43
Park 4 5 13 13 2 — 37
Indian Creek—Abby Bunker 11, Molly Bunker 10, Haley Selmer 22. Totals: 18 7-15 43.
Park—Meredith White 10, Abby Kaplan 4, Savannah Holmes 14, Sophie Zirkin 3, Isabel Angel 6. Totals: 15 5-6 35.