In the Noel Classic program, the blurb under Archbishop Spalding's roster reads: "[Spalding] once again can claim the most difficult area schedule."
The Cavaliers' schedule probably is one of the area's toughest, so one cannot judge Spalding by its losing record.
No. 9-ranked and fourth-seeded North County found that out last night in the third-place game of the Noel Classic at Spalding. The third-seeded Cavaliers handed the Knights their second straight loss, 54-48, after they had opened the season with six consecutive victories.
Spalding improved its record to 5-6. Four of its losses came to teams ranked in The Sun's top 10, and another was to H.D. Woodson, ranked in The Washington Post's top 10.
"The turning point was against Woodson," Spalding coach Paul Leimkuhler said. "We were down to Woodson by three with a minute left. We ended up losing by nine, but it gave us the confidence that we could play with a good team."
Senior forward Jennifer Metrinko scored 17 points to lead the Cavaliers. Sophomore guard Amy Langville added 15 and senior guard Jackie Cordery contributed 13.
Langville was the key in the game's final 30 seconds. She did a nice job protecting the ball, and hit both ends of two one-and-ones to clinch the win.
"Amy has played a lot of basketball in her young life," Leimkuhler said. "She reads the court so well. Once the ball is into her hands, I know we're in good shape."
Spalding led, 36-35, after three quarters, and began the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run. Langville's three-pointer with three minutes left gave Spalding a 47-38 advantage.
North County, which was led by Kim Miller's game-high 21 points, pulled within 50-44 on Renita Johnson's three-pointer with 1:30 remaining, but the Knights could not capitalize on two turnovers on Spalding's next two possessions.
Spalding had built a 14-10 lead after one quarter, but North County then used a 13-1 run to seize a 23-15 lead with 2:15 left in the first half.
In that span, Spalding went without a field goal for 8:30 -- missing 14 straight shots -- before Metrinko scored with :16 left in the second quarter to pull within, 23-19, at halftime.
In the fifth-place game, Stephanie Rohe scored 22 and her sister, Christa, added 14 to lead Mercy (3-4) to a 56-35 victory over Centennial (3-4).
Stephanie Rohe scored 84 points in three games, six points shy of the tournament record of 90 set by Patti Dages of Brooklyn Park in 1982.
In the seventh-place game, Shelly Tibbo scored 27 to lead Mount de Sales (6-3 ) over John Carroll (4-5), 50-40.