You’ve heard it a million times: Defense wins championships.
The mantra proved true on February 17, as the Indian Creek boys’ basketball team held longtime nemesis St. John’s Catholic Prep to 46 points, senior Gregory Marsh drew a charge with 3.6 seconds to play, and the Eagles earned Indian Creek its first-ever championship with a 49-46 win in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference final at UMBC.
Indian Creek got 13 points from junior Keion Ulmer-Bostick, whose go-ahead basket from a difficult baseline angle under the hoop gave his side a 47-46 lead with 11 seconds to play. Junior guard Dominique Maye had 13 points while freshman Dominic Day scored nine, including eight in the fourth quarter and six in the game’s final five minutes. Derron Morgan contributed nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Eagles.
The win gave Indian Creek its first MIAA plaque and avenged last season’s loss to St. John’s in the MIAA C final. In five meetings with the Vikings over the past two seasons, the Eagles had never held St. John’s to less than 62 points, saving their best defensive performance for the biggest win in school history.
“We knew we had to keep this game in the forties to be able to beat them,” said eighth-year Head Coach Will Bartz. “I knew they had the talent to win it, but could they come together and be 13 as one? It really showed.”
The game-clinching charge drawn by Marsh came at the end of a neck-and-neck battle worthy of a final. The Vikings played to a 16-14 lead after one quarter, getting seven second-chance points on six offensive rebounds, forcing the Eagles to switch matchups and concentrate on completing defensive possessions by rebounding.
The renewed defensive effort worked, and the Eagles limited St. John’s to just four points in the second quarter. Devin Garrett’s offensive rebound and putback, plus four points apiece from Morgan and Ulmer-Bostick, helped the Eagles to a 24-20 halftime lead.
The reigning-champion Vikings responded, going on a 14-7 run in the third quarter to take a 34-31 lead heading into the final period.
As they did in the conference semifinal two days prior—when they trailed by nine points at halftime to Key School before rallying for a 62-60 win—the Eagles grinded out the W over a tense fourth quarter. Maye opened the period with a bang, hitting a three-pointer to knot the game at 34-34. Several possessions later, Day drove and sliced to the hoop with a tight spin move to put the Eagles ahead 38-36. The freshman followed by cutting to the hoop after an offensive rebound by Marsh and finishing for a 40-36 lead midway through the period.
After a free throw by Morgan, a runner by Maye pushed Indian Creek’s lead to six at 45-39 with 2:50 remaining, and it seemed as if the momentum had turned permanently in favor of the Eagles.
But the Vikings rallied, scoring seven unanswered points on a three-pointer by Terrell Campbell and 4-4 free throw shooting by Michael Bealmeal to improbably take a 46-45 lead with less than a minute remaining.
Trailing by a point with 38 seconds to play, their title hopes hanging in the balance, the Eagles needed a bucket, and Ulmer-Bostick was the one to deliver. Marsh initiated the play, driving from the right wing and dishing to Ulmer-Bostick at the short corner. Ulmer-Bostick took a hard dribble baseline before taking off from behind the backboard, and his one-handed shot bounced softly on the rim before dropping in to reclaim the lead at 47-46 for the Eagles, the Creek’s spirited student section on the baseline erupting in cheers.
“All year we preached about it, that this season would be ours, and we’re going to get it no matter what,” said Ulmer-Bostick afterwards.
On the Vikings’ ensuing possession, Marsh slid perfectly to help on a hard-driving Bealmeal to draw the charge, and Maye sank two subsequent free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining to push Indian Creek to a 49-46 advantage. The Vikings’ half-court heave at the buzzer was well wide, setting off a triumphant celebration for the players and fans.
“We’ve been tested all year,” said Bartz of his Eagles’ gritty performance in the game’s pressure-filled final moments. “Ending the game on a charge like that and having a senior take it, there’s just no better feeling in basketball than having that happen right there.” Bartz, the program’s first and only coach who has overseen the Eagles’ rise from infancy to conference champions, added that the win is a testament to the school’s all-around support of its students.
“Being there eight years ago and here now, it’s all about the kids,” he said. “This is a special group. We’re really trying to do things the right way with our kids off the court. They did the work off the floor, and they got rewarded.”
The road to the top is often a long one, but Morgan confidently proclaimed the win as the beginning of a new era for Indian Creek.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Morgan, a junior. “I’m happy with this first one. More to come.”