North County's Kim Miller confessed to what must be considered normal apprehension before yesterday's snow-shortened first round of the 12th annual Noel Classic at Archbishop Spalding.
Miller, a 6-foot senior, can count the number of basketball games her team has lost during her high school career on just eight fingers.
As a starter since her freshman season at Brooklyn Park, Miller grew accustomed to winning state championships. She was part of two and played in the state Class 1A finals last March.
Brooklyn Park closed its doors last June, merging with Andover to form North County, and Miller wondered how the holdovers from both teams would mesh this season.
"It has been great from the very opening of school," said Miller, after her 28 points sparked the Knights to a 59-53 victory over Mercy in the foul-plagued tournament opener. North County was slated to face St. Mary's, 57-50 winner over John Carroll, in tonight's 5 o'clock semifinals.
The second half of the quarterfinal round was postponed by last night's snow and was to have been made up today.
North County coach Sally Entsminger has not been surprised by the Knights' 6-0 start.
"I hoped, even expected, that we would have no problems blending as a team," said Entsminger. "All the players came in wanting to be successful and the Andover players learned from the Brooklyn Park players how to be winners. We expect to win and that has been a big plus for us."
Mercy had other ideas yesterday. Stephanie Rohe ran off 14 points in the first quarter, staking the Sharpshooters to a 20-12 advantage, but Miller led North County's comeback with 10 points in the second quarter.
Rohe ended with 36 points, but clutch foul shooting and a strong inside power game in the second half enabled North County to pull away from a 38-38 tie. Mercy got within 53-51 in the fourth period before Miller's free throws and Renita Young's steal and fastbreak layup sealed the victory.
In other girls action yesterday, top-ranked Western breezed past Springbrook, 67-26, to advance to today's championship game in the IAABO Tournament at Prince Georges Community College. No. 3 Mount Hebron defeated DuVall 63-53 in a second-round game.
In the girls Holly-N-Hoops tournament at UMBC, Southern of Anne Arundel County and Seton Keough were awarded championships when North Harford and Severna Park, respectively, could not get a bus to the game. Tournament officials told The Sun they attempted to reschedule the games without success.
Bus problems also postponed three of the six first-round games of the boys Baltimore County Holiday Invitational at Essex.
In the Capital City Classic, host and No. 2 Annapolis routed City, 108-74, and No. 6 Poly also advanced with a 69-43 win over Great Mills.
A three-overtime game between Mount St. Joe and Edmondson, which won 84-83, was the lone semifinal played yesterday in the Wes Unseld Classic at Catonsville Community College. The Redskins will meet the winner of today's Broadneck-Woodlawn semifinal.
In a much warmer climate, No. 4 Gibbons defeated Cathedral of Ontario, 70-63, in the Kingdom of the Sun Classic in Florida. No. 5 Southern also prevailed, besting Granby (Va.) 82-67 in the Norfolk (Va.) Catholic Holiday Invitational.