After five years, Old Mill is back at Catonsville Community College and the site of its 1986 girls state 4A championship. Back -- with a difference.
Coach Pat Chance fashioned her first title on height (the front line averaged 6 feet 1) and experience (four seniors started).
The current Patriots have decent size, but experience is at a premium.
Chance (20 seasons, 302-130) will start three sophomores, a junior and one senior in today's 3 p.m. semifinal against Largo.
Three of her players verge on 6 feet, but nobody has played in the state championships.
"Now they have pressure on them," Chance said. "When we started three freshmen last year and beat Severna Park [in the regional semifinals], the kids were very relaxed because not much was expected of them."
That is no longer the case. Old Mill, the preseason Anne Arundel County favorite, is 20-1 and second-seeded at Catonsville -- where the college-sized court and big crowds are another pressure factor.
"I hope that the size of Catonsville and the atmosphere don't get to us," said senior guard Denise Zellers. "Our sophomores all have two years of varsity experience. So, hopefully, the nervousness will be gone in the first few minutes."
Given that, Chance said that Old Mill will rely on depth and heads-up play. She routinely uses nine or 10 players a game. Ten have won state "Minds in Motion" awards and four carry perfect grade-point averages.
"It's a large bench [nine players average between four and 12 points], and they're all intelligent, but young ballplayers," said Chance, who will team sophomores Christine Baer (5.6 ppg, 46 assists) and Stacy Himes (11.9, 88) with Zellers (3.9 ppg) in the three-guard offense. Sophomore Debbie Dawson (5.3 ppg, 6.8 rebounds per game) and junior Cindy Davenport (7.2, 6.5) play inside.
Old Mill has depth in fourth-year guard Sandy Johnson (6.2 ppg) and 10th-graders Ann Chicorelli (4.5), Leanne Lezzer (5.1) and Allison Wentworth (4.5).