What's the best way to keep a trio of six-foot basketball players from scoring at will against a smaller team?
The Old Mill girls had the answer in Saturday night's Class 4A Region IV final. And it was so simple.
You can't score when you don't have the ball.
Applying intensepressure to Broadneck's inexperienced guards, the top-seeded Patriots forced the two-time defending state champions into 28 turnovers and26-percent shooting en route to a 49-35 victory.
Old Mill (22-2) goes into the state tournament at Catonsville Community College as the second seed and faces No. 3 Largo in Thursday's 3 p.m. semifinal. Springbrook is the top seed and plays No. 4 Frederick at 5 p.m.
The Patriots are making their third appearance in the states under Chance, and the first since winning the title in 1985-86.
The second-seeded Bruins (18-6) had taken a 25-24 lead in the opening seconds of the third quarter on a pair of free throws from 6-foot-3 Theresa Cornish. But Old Mill ran off the next 13 points in a rare display of offensive prowess, and Broadneck didn't net its lone field goal of the quarter until a Cornish jumper with 1 minute, 21 seconds left.
The Patriots began the fourth quarter with a 7-1 run to build an insurmountable 44-29 lead.
Broadneck's Andrea Macey, who finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, scored but three points in the second half. The six-
foot forward was rarely involved in the offense unless it was to help get the ball past half court.
"We knew we had to keep pressure on the outside people," said Old Mill coach Pat Chance, who starts three sophomores and brings three others off the bench. "We couldn't just let them come down and set up in their half-court offense or they would kill us. Our young people aren't mature enough for that."
Old Mill was up to the task of shutting down Cornish (six points) and 6-foot-2 Jen Chapman (0 points), even when the ball did find its way inside.
Led by sophomore Anne Chicorelli (11 points, two blocks) and junior Cindy Davenport (eight points, eight rebounds) the Patriots managed to contain the bigger, more experienced Broadneck frontcourt.
"When we played Severna Park (a 45-32 win in Thursday's regional semifinal), we had to go out and take away their outside shots," said sophomore Stacy Himes ( 13 points). "Tonight, we had to play back on their inside and that's just what we did."
Broadneck coachBruce Springer said, "They kept a lot of pressure on the ball and made it difficult for us to find our big people
inside. I thought we did a good job of doing that in the first half, but in the second half they tightened up a little bit more."
Such a defensive showing hasbeen a must with Old Mill mired in a shooting slump. The Patriots only made 16 of 66 shots in the win over Severna Park, and 17 of 47 Saturday.
"We've been off the whole week," said sophomore Christine Baer, "but we came out tonight and played a strong second half."
Senior guard Sandy Johnson was at her strongest in the third quarter, scoring all six of her points and providing some much-needed leadership.
"I'm just trying to get my shot back together again," said Johnson, who missed the early part of the season with a pulled muscle.
"Now with the state tournament, it's getting better and I feel better. I have a little more confidence," she said.
As one of two seniors on the team, she has more experience than most of her teammates. But that can be deceiving.
"I've never been to the state tournamentbefore," Johnson said, "so I'm just as young as they are right now."
It's doubtful that any team at Catonsville is younger than the Patriots.
"If someone had said, 'Will you be there?' I would have said, 'I'm not sure. I have to wait and see how things go, because you never know with young players,' " Chance said.
"The one thing about them is they hang in there. They don't fold. And this will be good experience for them, going up there this year."