When Old Mill was given the nod as the preseason favorite in Anne Arundel County, Patriots coach Pat Chance said she felt her team was a year away.
Chance repeated that statement all season, as her team compiled a 22-2 record.
Now, fourth-ranked Old Mill is just a game away from a state championship.
Led by a balanced attack in which 11 players scored, second-seeded Old Mill (23-2) routed third-seeded Largo (19-6), 68-40, in a Class 4A state semifinal at Catonsville Community College yesterday.
The Patriots, making their first appearance in the state semifinals since 1985-86 when they won the Class 4A state title, will meet top-seeded Springbrook, a 68-35 winner over fourth-seeded Frederick, in tomorrow's championship game at 3 p.m.
"I still think we're a year away," said Chance, who has only two seniors. "I guess I'm surprised, but I'm happy."
Chance has six sophomores on the team, including three starters. But the Patriots played like veterans, while Largo, with five returnees from last season's state runner-up team, never got on track.
"They're crazy like I am," Chance said of her team. "Not much bothers them."
Senior guards Denise Zellers and Sandy Johnson led the Patriots with 10 points apiece. Sophomore guards Stacy Himes (four steals, three blocked shots) and Christine Baer added nine points each.
Old Mill, which had shot just 29 percent in two regional playoff games, hit seven of 14 shots in the first quarter to storm to an 18-3 lead. Conversely, Largo, missed its first 14 shots and made just one of 15 field goal attempts in the period.
The Patriots stretched their lead to 28-8 with 4 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter, but Largo ended the first half on a 10-2 run to pull to 30-18 at halftime.
Largo, which was led by Camille Joyner (23 points, 18 rebounds), began the second half where it left off in the first, outscoring Old Mill, 8-2, to pull within 32-26 with 5 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Johnson then gave the Patriots a much-needed spark. She hit a three-pointer, then made a basket off a fast-break to give Old Mill an 11-point advantage.
Old Mill was ahead, 48-28, by the end of the quarter, and led by at least 16 the rest of the game.
In the other semifinal, Cindy Weisman scored 24 to lead Springbrook (24-1) over Frederick (17-9).