laurel athletes
Laurel High School junior Alexandra Ford won a Maryland girls state championship in wrestling.
Courtesy of Marc Jackson

For Laurel High School’s athletic program, the first week of March was a good week.

Junior Alexandra Ford won a Maryland girls state championship in wrestling on March 2. She is the first female from the school to win that distinction and the 19th wrestler from Laurel High to be an individual state champion.

On March 5, the men’s basketball team beat Northwood High, of Silver Spring, to win the Class 4A South 1 regional championship. The victory placed Laurel among the final eight teams in Class 4A, which includes the state’s largest high schools. The regional championship was Laurel’s first since 2009.

Laurel then lost a nail-biter to Bethesda’s Walt Whitman High on March 8 in the state quarterfinals, 73-72. The back-and-forth game ended with Laurel getting off three shots to win in the last minute, but they didn’t go down. 

laurel atheltes 2
Laurel High School’s men’s basketball team won the Class 4A South 1 regional championship.
Courtesy of Keith Sydnor

“They’ve been resilient all year,” head coach Eric Hines said of his players. “We’ll grow from this point, and continue to get better.” All the starters are underclassmen and are expected back next year.

Ford, a junior, won her wrestling championship in the 135-lb. class. She had an 18-4 record for the season.

Laurel High wrestling coach Marc Jackson said two of those victories came over boys, while three of her four defeats were to boys. Girls wrestling was sanctioned by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association in 2019, and girls at Laurel can choose whether to compete against boys or not, the coach said. Four girls were on the team this year. 

Ford won three matches at the state tournament, which was held at the Show Place Arena, in Upper Marlboro. Jackson said her toughest match was in the quarterfinals against a wrestler from Boonsboro High, in Washington County, who had won a state championship the previous year. Ford beat her by a score of 8-2. 

“She just dominated that match completely,” Jackson said. “For all six minutes, from the time the whistle blew, she was in control.”

The Laurel boys basketball team beat Northwood in the regional finals 69-62, boosting their won-loss record to 13-9. 

Coach Hines said the game was a “full-team effort” for his young team, which has only three seniors. Hines, who is in his first year as coach, said the players have developed well over the season. “The guys have found that team cohesion, and they are really committed to each other.” 

Hines said standouts against Northwood were 6-foot guard Jermaine Taylor, who scored 22 points; 6-foot guard Amadou Kaloga, with 19; and 6-foot-3-inch Christian Brown, with 13. He also praised 6-foot-6-inch Aiden Lee for making key rebounds and steals, 6-foot-7-inch Gilbert Osafo for making two key blocks and 

grabbing a key rebound at the end of the game, and 6-foot-3-inch Kaiden Turner for “bringing key energy off the bench.” 

All those players are juniors, except for Osafo, a sophomore. “At the right moment, they just made good plays,” Hines said.