Although her Glen Burnie girls basketball team trailed, 15-6, after the first quarter and South River seemed on the verge of a blowout, Coach Colleen Stauffer said everything was going "basically as expected."
"We've had a history of starting slowly, and we've been working on increasing the tempo in practice," Stauffer said after her Gophers won the Capital City Classic championship game, 47-42, at Annapolis High Friday night.
"I'd like to say I was surprised, but I wasn't."
Instead, she sat back and waited for the second-quarter fireworks to start.
South River's Pam Patterson scored the first basket of the second quarter, but then the Gophers (4-4) exploded for a 15-1 run that turned a 17-6 deficit into a 21-17 lead.
The Seahawks regrouped to take a 36-34 lead heading into the fourth quarter but then got into foul trouble and never completely recovered.
The Gophers got solid efforts from Kelly Wagner (13 points), Christy Hutson (11) and Melissa Schaffer (10). Lee Mallonee added six points, and center Jennifer Roth added four.
Glen Burnie, which finished with a 7-15 record last year, reached the tournament final with a 46-42 semifinal victory over Poly of Baltimore. The Gophers were led by 5-foot-9 sophomore Schaffer (15 points), Wagner (10) and senior Hutson (eight) in that game.
South River -- 10-12 a year ago -- whipped Annapolis, 38-29, in the semifinals. Juniors Tracey Zettle and Collette Marquis scored eight points each, and Pam Patterson and Peggy Schreiber both scored six.
The defending tournament champion Seahawks (5-3), who trailed the Gophers, 23-20, at the half, battled back to take that 36-34 lead into the fourth quarter.
But their efforts cost them starting forward Zettle (four points, two blocks, one steal), who fouled out of the game in the third quarter, as well as Marquis (nine points), who fouled out midway through the fourth.
Starting guard Schreiber (nine points) and center Patterson (eight) also were in foul trouble before the fourth quarter began, with four each.
That left the Seahawks grounded with inexperience as the Gophers -- led by guard Kelly Rodgers (three points, seven assists) -- kept exploiting them with two-on-one and in some cases three-on-one fast breaks in the fourth quarter. South River coach Jim Morton said his squad was more than surprised -- it was overwhelmed.
"Late in the game the girls were getting tired, and I only had one or two starters left. The rest were just trying to take up the slack," said Morton, whose Seahawks defeated the Gophers for last year's title. "We made mistakes, and they capitalized. We played one good quarter, and they played four."
Schreiber and Patterson had six points each in the first quarter to help the Seahawks.
Schreiber scored her team's first two field goals as the Seahawks took a 4-0 lead, but the Gophers tied the score on baskets by Rodgers and Wagner.
South River, however, closed the quarter with an 11-2 run for the 15-6 lead to start the second.
That's where the Seahawks came apart and the Gophers came together.
Eight of the Gophers' 15 points in the barrage came at the charity stripe, where Hutson made all four of her free throws and Mallonee and Roth each made two.
"Probably what won the game for us was the foul shots," said Wagner of her squad, which was 17-for-27 from the line.
"We pretty much stuck to the man-to-man defense, and they never caught on to what we were doing," said Hutson, who went 7-for-8 from the foul line and had two blocked shots in the game. "It all came from sticking together.
We kept working together, and we talked a lot."
In the boys championship of the Capital City tournament, host Annapolis (8-0) defeated Poly of Baltimore, 72-55.
Dennis Edwards scored a team-high 28 points for the Panthers, while Rob Wooster added 18 points (including four three-pointers) and Del Howard tallied 16 points (including four of six from the line).
The Engineers fall to 6-3 with the loss.