In a vital day for Meridian High School athletics, the Mustangs travelled to VCU’s Siegel Center to take on the Carroll County Cavaliers in the State Finals as they attempted to repeat as Class 3 state champions. It would figure to be their toughest matchup yet this postseason, as in addition to the high stakes, the number of students and fans supporting the opposition seemed to outnumber the Mustang faithful. Carroll County jumped out to a 4-3 lead before a 9-0 run, capped off by a Zoraida Icabalceta layup, allowed Meridian to set the tone. The Cavaliers came storming back, however, and would prove to be a much harder out than Meridian’s previous opponents. They tied the game at 20 points apiece midway through the second quarter before eventually taking a 27-22 lead, which the Mustangs cut to 27-24 on a Peyton Jones jump shot just before the half.
The second half would prove to be a tightly contested, back-and-forth affair, as Carroll County scored the opening bucket before Meridian retook a 32-31 lead with an 8-2 run capped off by a Peyton Jones jump shot. The Cavaliers stormed back in front to take a 38-35 advantage into the final frame, to which the Mustangs quickly responded to go ahead 40-39 on an Elizabeth Creed three-pointer. Meridian expanded their lead to 45-41 after another Creed three, but a 7-0 run put the Cavaliers back on top with under a minute remaining. Icabalceta, the Regional Player of the Year, was then fouled on a three-pointer and made two of three to cut the deficit to 48-47, and Carroll County’s Alyssa Ervin missed the front end of a one and one to give the Mustangs one last chance. But they were unable to capitalize as they turned it over twice, and two more trips to the free throw line by the Cavaliers ended Meridian’s season with a final score of 51-47.
Regardless of the defeat, head coach Chris Carrico had nothing but positive things to say about the Mustangs’ season. “The Meridian program is in good hands,” he stated during media availability. “Obviously the goal is to get back (to the State Finals) and to win, but these girls have set a standard for the program, not only on the court but off the court.” Carrico mentioned that he has coached primarily the same roster throughout his four years at Meridian and praised their growth throughout that time, while Elizabeth Creed described the club as “tight-knit.”
Megan Tremblay led the Mustangs in scoring with 12 points, while Creed added 11. Ervin led the Cavaliers with 19.