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Indian Creek girls basketball returns IAAM C Conference title game after 62-36 rout of Friends

by KATHERINE FOMINYKH, Capital Gazette News
If Indian Creek girls basketball puts another date next to 2023 on its Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference championships banner on Sunday, there’d be the obvious assumption: the same team won, improved or stayed consistent, then returned to conquer again.

But for the Eagles, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The two bigs that Indian Creek funneled most of its offense through are gone. In their place is a balanced squad more than happy to run plays in transition and to fill a stat book with seven players scoring double figures any given game.

Save for three returning players, the consistent carryover from last year’s team is how heavily injuries scourged Indian Creek’s season and how the Eagles learned to adapt and power through it.

The result of that battle went on full display on Thursday evening, as Indian Creek executed its best assets to run past Friends School, 62-36, in an IAAM C Conference semifinal, earning a return trip to the title game.

“It’s a great feeling,” coach Casey Corkin said. “Yes, it’s an easy win today and people expected us to go again, but you just can’t take it for granted.”

The Eagles (18-6) voyage to Stevenson University on Sunday at 3 p.m. to rematch Glenelg Country. Glenelg Country split two matchups with Indian Creek, most recently a 66-46 Dragons win on Feb. 7.
“We got some game plans lined up for Glenelg,” Corkin said. “We’ll be ready defensively this time.”

Indian Creek treated the first five minutes of the semifinal like a practice drill. No one skipped a basket if she wanted one, and before long, the Eagles had already drummed up 19 straight points.

But just around the point the Eagles lurched to double digits, Friends gradually pressured its hosts out from the post and to the perimeter, limiting — though not neutralizing — what had been so effective for five minutes.

A 19-0 deficit and too many empty-handed drives primed Friends to wake up. But the trill of an official’s whistle and Lulu Mickle’s free throw did the trick.

It was like the other Quakers had just been waiting for permission, as the tide surfed the other way almost immediately. Two more consecutive baskets, as well as Indian Creek’s self-inflicted turnovers drove the hosts to timeout. That was all Friends needed, apparently, to cut the Eagles’ advantage to 22-12 after one quarter.
If Indian Creek didn’t strike back quickly and furiously, it would be serving up another upset to the Quakers on a plate. But they learned long ago how to fight back from adversity and had the strength of their bonds with one another to do it now.

“I think it’s how we build our team chemistry off the court,” junior guard Abbey Bunker said. “It’s translated to the court so well.”

A 12-point unchallenged run erased any chance that the visitors would rally back like that again. Friends loosened its grip on the inside, too, allowing freshmen Ofundem Mbelem and Stephanie Bunker to pluck boards for putbacks and Alewine and Abbey Bunker to drive in for transition buckets.

“We just had to take a deep breath and play our own game,” Bunker said. “Once we did that, we were back in it.”

Friends stopped the run with a jumper, but it was a single salt crystal against a snowstorm. Indian Creek went on another 9-1 run with Alewine hitting a 3-pointer in the spurt.

“We wanted to hedge the defense to take away some of those shooters,” Corkin said. “We made the adjustments and just kept running the ball.”

But running didn’t come quite as easily initially in the third quarter.

Friends kept Indian Creek scoreless for two minutes to open the third quarter and only allowed eight points in the frame. The Quakers hit three 3-pointers and scored 11, but still trailed 53-26.

The Eagles weren’t too worried.

Freshman Malinda Morgan engineered the fourth quarter in near-perfect cycle — a methodical drive to midcourt, chewing clock before dishing to a teammate for a basket. Granted, Friends did outscore the Eagles 21-17 in the second half, but by the last eight minutes, Corkin was subbing at a constant rate.

“I think a game like this will be good for us [for Sunday],” Morgan said. “We could test our full-court defense and things like that.”

The original article, published in the 2/16/2024 Capital Gazette can be viewed at this link: https://www.capitalgazette.com/2024/02/15/indian-creek-friends-iaam-semifinals/
Indian Creek school is a co-educational, college preparatory independent school, located in Crownsville, Maryland.  Students in Pre-K3 through grade 12 receive a vibrant educational experience based on excellent academics steeped in strong student-teacher connections.