Coming into last night's Severna Park-Old Mill girls basketball showdown, each team was going to try to beat the other at its own game --even though the teams represent a study in similar styles.
Both teams rely on a speedy, swarming, high-pressure defense designed to capitalize on turnovers.
The difference in the contest, won by the Patriots, 70-57, was Old Mill's ability to change the tempo and control the boards in a half-court game when it had to.
With her team ahead, 52-41, to start the fourth, Patriots coach Pat Chance -- surrounded by her players -- knelt down near the Old Mill bench and implored her team to slow the game's tempo.
"Just calm down and start working the ball inside more," said Chance, whose Patriots lead the Friendship Division with a 4-0 record. "Work the ball around a little bit but don't let the press off."
Her speech came after a third quarter in which the Patriots had watched their biggest lead of the game, 46-32, dwindle to 48-41.
"We had started turning the ball over and doing some stupid things," Chance said afterward.
But from the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Patriots relied on their inside game from junior Cindy Davenport (5-foot-9) and sophomores Stacey Himes (5-9), Debbie Dawson (6-0) and Allison Wentworth (5-9) to pull away.
"When they had the ball, they controlled it to their liking. We played at a fast pace like we wanted to, but it was out of control because we weren't ready,"said 11th-year Severna Park coach Kevin McGrath, whose Falcons turned the ball over 27 times, compared to 18 for the Patriots.
"I was happy with our physical effort, but this was probably the worst game (fouling the other team) that we've ever had."
Although the Patriots shot only 27-for-47 from the free-throw line, that and a 2-to-1 edge in rebounding did the damage to the Falcons down the stretch.
The only thing the Falcons could do was foul.
In all, Severna Park (7-2 overall, 5-1 against the county) committed 32 fouls. Four players -- including the Riley twins, Tami and Tina, and a third starter, Barb Geary -- fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter.
Old Mill's victory improved the Patriots record to 10-1 overall and 6-0 against the county. It also overshadowed a record-setting night for Severna Park's Tina Riley (21 points), who sank six three-pointers to break the county mark.
"We knew beating them wasn't impossible," said Himes, a guard who scored a team-high 16 points. "Last year, we lost to them badly at first, then we beat them in the playoffs."