North County girls basketball coach Sally Entsminger wasn't necessarily looking for Kim Miller to emerge as the steadying influence in the second half of yesterday's game at Glen Burnie.
The senior just happened to be the one to step forward and turn back the Gophers.
"I was looking for anyone out there who was feeling confident to put the ball in the basket," Entsminger said, after the Knights had beaten Glen Burnie for the second time this season, 55-34, in a 4A League Friendship Division game.
Miller scored eight of her game-high21 points and pulled down eight rebounds during a four-minute span of the third quarter to repel a Gophers comeback.
"Kim does such a good job on the boards," Entsminger said, "and her shots started to drop for her, and she just naturally took charge."
"Iwas trying to take charge," said Miller, a 6-foot center who also had a game-high 17 rebounds. "The team was throwing bad passes, and I feel we play better if I control the game a little bit better. It seems everybody starts to get everything together."
North County (11-3overall, 5-1 in the division) used a dozen Glen Burnie turnovers to lead, 17-4, after one quarter. By halftime, the Gophers' turnover count had grown to 21, and at game's end it was up to 34.
"We work and work and work and work on the passing, but we're still basically a young team," said Glen Burnie coach Colleen Stauffer.
Stauffer doesn't have many pleasant memories of her experiences with North Countythis season.
When the two teams met back on Dec. 18, the Knights won handily, 61-37. Before that, during a preseason scrimmage with North County, Glen Burnie senior Kelly Wagner sprained her left ankle and missed the first two regular-season games.
"We don't have a badteam, but we just don't match up well with North County," Stauffer said.
"They're just so strong," Wagner said.
The Knights led, 23-5, midway through the second quarter after a Renita Johnson follow. But the Gophers reeled off eight straight points, and 11 of the next 15, to only trail, 27-16, at halftime.
"We finally started to playtogether," Wagner said.
The margin remained at 11 points, 31-20, when Miller went to work.
First, she took a pass from Johnson and scored on a fast-break layup. Then she followed a Johnson miss, converted a Tonya Kolodziejski pass and put back another miss, and North County suddenly was ahead, 37-20.
Miller was through for the quarter, but the Knights weren't. Amy Helms scored inside, Johnson sank twofree throws and Kolodziejski hit a bank shot to extend the lead to 43-20.
Johnson finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Kolodziejski had eight points and six rebounds.
Wagner paced Glen Burnie (8-7, 2-3) with 10 points. Melissa Schaffer added nine points and LeeMallonee eight. Mallonee and Wagner had 13 and 10 rebounds, respectively.
After Kolodziejski and Mallonee traded baskets to start the game, North County went on a 15-0 run to seize early control.
Miller, Johnson and Kolodziejski did all the scoring during the surge, which finally was interrupted by a Schaffer free throw with 27 seconds left.
Glen Burnie committed four turnovers on its first five possessions of the second quarter, before eventually climbing back into contention.
Entsminger sensed her players beginning to relax, ratherthan delivering the knockout blow.
"We need to have a little bit more of a killer instinct," she said. "When you get teams down, you keep them there."
Stauffer said, "We know what these kids are capable of. We just can't seem to put two halves of good basketball together. We start off slowly. That's been our history.
"I'm proud of them, though. Unfortunately, you don't want to run into a buzz saw whenyou're on an upswing, but I don't think our girls have anything to be ashamed of."