Even if you weren't superstitious, you knew that when Wilde Lake girls basketball coach Dave Nesbitt yelled "13!" from the bench, it was bad luck for the Northeast Eagles during their game last night.
The call sent the Wildecats into a frenzied and swarming full-court press whose primary targets were the Eagles' 5-foot-11 players Stephanie Lazor and Debbi Dadds.
Although they had trouble putting the ball on the floor and in the hoop, Dadds (11 points) and Lazor (10) endured the Wildecats' bludgeoning defense -- which produced 18 fouls -- and grabbed 11 rebounds each to lead the the Eagles (3-0) to a 40-33 victory.
"We're 3-0, but so far we've played every team like they were better than us," said Northeast coach Calvin Vain, the Anne Arundel County Sun's Coach of the Year last season.
Vain said he delivered an impassioned halftime speech, which appeared to ignite the Eagles for the second half.
"This team was more aggressive than us in the first half," said Vain. "I didn't exactly chew them out for the way they were playing, but I did tell them to be more aggressive in the second half."
Lazor and Dadds, who both had scored 18 points in Wednesday's 47-25 win over North East, were held to one and two points, respectively, in the first half.
"They were pretty aggressive in the first quarter. We felt like we weren't even in the game," said Lazor.
The Eagles had a 15-12 lead with 3:26 left in the second quarter, but the Wildecats, led by Renita Young (eight points, two steals), who shot 4-for-4 from the line, closed with a 6-0 run. The shorter Wildecats held an 18-15 halftime lead.
"In the first half, we were a little intimidated and we were doing a lot of stupid things, like throwing passes away," said Lazor. "But in the second half we turned the game around and started playing it our way."
Northeast guard Tammy Kuebel, who had just two points in the first half, single-handedly outscored the Wildecats, 6-2, to open the third quarter, giving the Eagles a 21-20 lead, which they never relinquished.
Kuebel (nine points) went to the line twice, sinking all four of her free throws to bring the Eagles to within 20-19. Her 10-footer with 4 minutes, 15 seconds left in the quarter gave the Eagles a permanent lead.
"She actually kept us in the game," said Vain. "She's been on the team for three years and she's been used to other players taking charge. But she's finally realizing how important she can be."
The Wildecats (2-1) were in foul trouble for the rest of the game and never came closer than three points of taking the lead.
Although the Eagles had built their biggest lead, 37-27, with 2:21 left in the game, they got sloppy again.
Dadds went to the line five times, including three times in the fourth quarter, going 3-for-10.
"My foul shooting was a lot worse than usual," said Dadds. "But this was one of the roughest teams we've every played. They were all over me under the baskets and the way we came back shows that we're a strong team."
Wilde Lake then outscored the Eagles, 6-3, and still had a chance to win with 57 seconds left with the score 38-33.
But Renita Young got called for a charging foul on an inbounds pass.
Lazor went to the line and sank both free throws to put the game out of reach.