The Green Hornets girls scrub basketball league for high-school aged girls concluded its fifth and most successful season yet on February 24 when the Mercury outlasted the Mystics 22-21 in the league championship game at Severn School.
The Saturday-afternoon final saw the Mercury rally from an early 9-0 deficit behind six second-half points by Lexi Richardson, three fourth-quarter points by Ella Ryan and five fourth-quarter points by Grace Knight.
Knight swished a short jumper from the wing off an assist from Ryan with 40 seconds left to give the Mercury its winning basket. The Mystics narrowly missed a would-be buzzer-beating game-winner when Paige Gunning’s 17-footer rimmed off the back iron.
The champion Mercury players are Richardson, Ryan, Knight, Connor Craig, Gabrielle Diggs, Emily Knight, Delaney Lee, Kaitlyn McGurk, Heidi Meyers and Julia Ryan, and the team was coached by Stephanie Edmonston and Stacey Ryan.
The Mystics are Gunning, Kate Bray, Ashley Giard, Marina Karides, Ariana Lecouras, Greer Long, Alex Miller, Caroline O’Keefe, Strickland Schumacher and Kayla Shabow and were coached by head coach Heidi Giard and assistant coach Constantina Miller.
The Green Hornets girls scrub league has grown every season since its inception in the 2013-2014 season, when for the first time high-school aged girls in the area were given an opportunity to continue playing rec basketball in a relaxed and fun setting comparable to the popular Green Hornets boys scrub league.
This year’s league had 69 girls compete on seven teams, up from 67 players last year, 55 the year before and around 40 in each of its first two years. Girls from eight different high schools – Severna Park High, Archbishop Spalding, Severn, Chesapeake, Broadneck, Glen Burnie, Northeast, McDonogh – as well as several home-schooled students, participated in this year’s league.
Next season, the league hopes to have 80 girls sign up, which would allow for eight teams and an even playoff bracket with no byes.
Players and coaches alike agreed on the merits of the girls scrub league, particularly since there are so many girls playing and enjoying Green Hornets rec basketball throughout elementary and middle school.
“Girls play basketball up until eighth grade, and then all of a sudden there was no option unless they make the high school team,” said Mercury coach Stacey Ryan. “So, girls like to play sports just as much as boys do, and the boys scrub league is big, so this is a nice opportunity to get out and continue to play the sport they love on a fun level.”
Many of the league’s players are athletes in other sports, including soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, softball and track and field.
Ella Ryan, who plays JV basketball at Severna Park concurrently with the scrub schedule, said the scrub league is a nice complement to the necessarily rigorous nature of competitive high school sports.
“Even if you play high school basketball, it’s more fun to play scrub too, because you get to play with your friends and it’s more low-key,” said Ryan.
The Mystics’ Gunning, who attends Spalding and plays lacrosse, said the league is a great balance of socializing and competing.
“I don’t get to see my Severna Park friends all that much, so all of us come together, and it’s nice and relaxed, and we have a fun time,” Gunning said.