POTOMAC — After winning the MCPS county championship just a week ago, the Winston Churchill High School girls basketball team entered the Maryland 4A playoffs with a first-round bye.
The Bulldogs hosted Richard Montgomery in the regional semifinals on Monday night, and Churchill did just enough behind Chelsea Calkins’ 28 points for the 56-50 victory over the Rockets.
“I had no doubt,” said Calkins. “My team and I came ready to play. Even when it got close, we just gave it [our] all.”
Calkins scored 17 points in the first half and then added 11 more in the second half. “I just knew I had to bring my all to this team, and I did,” said Calkins. “My shots were falling. It feels great.”
Dillan George also looked impressive with 19 total points for the Bulldogs during the evening. “It was a close game,” said George. “But it felt good that we stayed calm and came together as a team and pulled it out.”
Meanwhile, Katie Diao led RM with 14 total points, while Charlyn Chu finished with 11 points. The game was very close throughout, as Churchill had led 10-3 early on, but the Rockets tied the game at 15 near the end of the first quarter.
Calkins and George continuously traded multiple buckets to keep the Bulldogs in it, finishing the half with 17 and 12 points, respectively.
“We’ve played together for such a long time,” said George. “It’s great to see how it paid off, especially in a big game like this.”
The Bulldogs were able to knock down shots, rebound, and play solid defense to lead 28-21 at halftime. Both teams continued to trade scores, with Churchill leading 43-36 at the end of the third quarter. At that point, RM went on a 10-0 run, which was capped off by a Diao 3-pointer to put the visitors up 46-43 with 4:48 remaining in regulation.
However, the momentum swung back towards the Bulldogs, as they went on an 11-0 run which included a go-ahead shot by George.“It was a fantastic run,” said Churchill head coach Pete McMahon. “We were down three with four minutes to go. We called a timeout, and told them we’ve prepared all season for this moment. They came through.”
Leading 54-46, the Bulldogs didn’t look back as they held on for the victory, despite the best efforts of the Rockets. With the win, Churchill will host rival Wootton in a 4A regional final matchup on Wednesday, March 1.
“I’m excited,” said George. “Wootton is a big rival for us. We played them last year and pulled out of the regions. Hopefully, it will be the same result.”
Despite the loss, RM head coach Michael Oakes is proud of his team, which was coming off a 10-game winning streak heading into this game. “Nobody wants their season to end,” said Oakes. “But when it does end, you want to know that you’ve left it out on the floor, and that’s how I feel about my team.”