With apologies to Loyola and Calvert Hall, an even older Thanksgiving sports tradition continued Saturday at St. Timothy's, an all-girls private school in Stevenson. There, for the 113th time, the school's two rival factions, the Brownies and Spiders, met for their annual basketball game.
The event, which was held on the actual holiday until the 1970s, is played outdoors, using old rules that divide the court into three zones and emphasize passing over dribbling. Baskets count as one point each in the game, which draws scores of parents and alumnae.
"I think the [school's founders] would be so proud to see what it's evolved into," headmaster Randy Stevens said. "When they started this, girls were not really afforded these types of opportunities. To have a tradition that's gone on for [so long] is just absolutely incredible."
For the record, the Spiders beat the Brownies, 21-17, for their fifth straight win.
For a pair of local football teams, this weekend's state semifinals will be a journey into the relative unknown.
Third-ranked Dunbar (11-1) will face Catoctin, a Frederick County power that over the past two weeks has beaten Baltimore County's Chesapeake and Pikesville by a combined 84-13. The Poets are seeking their third straight Class 1A state title.
The game will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at Poly.
An even tougher assignment, however, belongs to fourth-ranked Eastern Tech, which must travel to the Eastern Shore on Friday night (7 p.m.) to face Queen Anne's, a physical, run-oriented team also with an 12-0 record.
"It's far away, there really is no geographical tie and to my knowledge we've never played them," said Eastern Tech coach Marc Mesaros, who is trying to guard against his players' looking ahead to a possible 2A final rematch with top-ranked River Hill. "They're going to play like their life depends on it, and our kids have to get that through their heads."
Another local team, Hereford (10-2), has drawn an equally tough assignment, traveling to Wilde Lake (11-1) in the 3A semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday.
Hereford, in search of its first state title since 2002, must contend with not only the talented Wildecats, but also the added emotion of the final home game for longtime Wilde Lake coach Doug DuVall, who is retiring at the end of this season.
Poly's girls teams finished the fall season with two Baltimore City championships: in volleyball and soccer.
In volleyball, it was the second straight title for the Engineers (12-3) and coach Kendall Peace.
Led by libero Erika Bell, middle hitter Niya Summerville, setter Adreinna McCullum and outside hitter Cynthia Johnson, the Engineers, who beat Digital Harbor in the finale a year ago, defeated Western in five games to keep the title.
"I think in the beginning [of the season] they were nervous and doubtful of themselves," Peace said, "but we played Mervo the week before the city championship, and that was one of the best teams we played. They kind of felt like they proved themselves in winning that, and they felt, 'We can really do this.' "
The Engineers beat Mervo in five games; the fifth game against Western went to 15-12.
"It was 15-relief," Peace said with a laugh.
For the soccer team, which defeated neighbor and top rival Western twice, Natalie Neill and Eva Koliofotis combined for more than 70 percent of the offense.
In finishing 9-3 overall and sweeping their Baltimore City competition, the Engineers played exceptionally well as a team, coach Josh Headley said.
"I try to make [team unity] the hallmark of all my teams," said Headley, who added that philosophy paid off especially well when the Engineers scored two goals withing four minutes late in the game to come back and beat Owings Mills.