Lee Ann Leezer came off the Old Mill bench to score seven points in the final 2 minutes, 41 seconds, as the Patriots rallied to a 53-51 victory over Springbrook in the girls Class 4A state championship game yesterday at Catonsville Community College.
Leezer made a three-point basket and four free throws -- including two with 27 seconds to go -- to lead No. 4 and second-seeded Old Mill (24-2) back from a 49-44 deficit.
It almost wasn't enough. Old Mill's dream season nearly ended in a nightmare when Springbrook's Cindy Weisman almost made a desperation shot at the buzzer. The ball hit the backboard and the rim before it fell to the floor and Old Mill could celebrate its first state title since 1986.
"The only thing that goes through my mind in a situation like that is we let them get to within two," said Old Mill coach Pat Chance. "I've watched enough of those games when those half-court three-point shots go in and a team loses by one."
Trailing by five, the Patriots mounted their comeback, getting four consecutive free throws from Leezer and Stacey Himes to cut the Springbrook lead to 49-48.
Then Leezer made her three-pointer to give Old Mill the lead back at 51-49 with 2:04 left.
After Springbrook (24-2) came up empty on two straight possessions, the Patriots nearly let the 30-second shot clock expire, but Leezer was fouled. Her free throws increased Old Mill's advantage to 53-49 with 27 seconds left.
The Blue Devils, ranked third by The Washington Post, pulled to 53-51 on two free throws by Lora Aggour with 22 seconds remaining. With six seconds remaining, Artise Davis intercepted an Old Mill pass and quickly got it to Weisman, who took two steps before taking the final shot.
In the first half, Old Mill, which has three sophomores in its starting lineup, had the top-seed Springbrook reeling.
Trailing, 13-11, after the opening period, Old Mill went on a 21-3 run to lead, 32-16, with 2:57 remaining in the first half. The Patriots held a 38-18 advantage at the half.
Springbrook was hurt in the first half when two of its front-line players -- Aggour and Cecelee Campbell -- went to the bench after picking up early fouls.
With both players back in to start the second half, Springbrook began to control the boards and got back into the game.
Old Mill went cold, making only two of 17 shots during one stretch, and Springbrook rallied to make the score 42-34 at the end of the third quarter. The Blue Devils then scored the first nine of the fourth quarter to take a 45-42 lead with 4:45 remaining.
The Patriots ended a dry spell of seven minutes without a field goal on a basket by Christine Baer to make the score 45-44. However, two more Springbrook baskets left Old Mill trailing, 49-44.
"Nobody expected us to be in this position from the time we went into regionals," said Chance. "I can't say that I'm shocked. I'm happy to be here, but there's a lot of young teams in this region, including us and Springbrook. We basically go in with the idea to play our best and hardest and see what happens."
Himes led Old Mill with 12 points and five assists. Weisman scored a game-high 23 for Springbrook. Campbell and Aggour added 11 and 10, respectively.
Old Mill's championship marked the third straight season that an Anne Arundel County team has won the Class 4A title. Broadneck won it the previous two years.