Barb Wolf and Dave Greenberg seemed to have their roles reversed.
Wolf, the first-year coach of Glenelg High's girls basketball team, was all smiles after her Gladiators put up a spirited fight against Mount Hebron before falling, 47-40, in the Class 2A semifinals at Catonsville Community College Friday.
Greenberg, Hebron's 13-year coach who came this weekend in searchof his sixth state championship -- and his fifth in the last six years -- wore the expression of a frustrated loser. His Vikings didn't look all that satisfied, either.
"Look at us. We're walking around here with our heads down like we lost, and we're headed to the state championship game," said Greenberg, who threw in a dose of perspective. "But I guess it's good if you can struggle and still win."
And struggle the Vikings did. Their advance to yesterday's 2A championship game contained far more suspense than Greenberg expected.
(For the title, Mount Hebron played Parkside of Wicomico County, 68-50 winners over Fairmont Heights of Prince George's in Friday's other semifinal. The title game was played after the Howard County Sun deadline).
After turning the ball over repeatedly at the outset and falling into a 21-6 hole late in the first quarter, Glenelg looked ready to roll over early for the Vikings. Surely, the Gladiators were recallinghow the Vikings had beaten them twice by a combined 39 points duringtheir regular-season march to Greenberg's 11th county title. Surely,history was about to repeat itself.
Then, several unexpected things happened. Junior guard Tanissa Dorsey came off the bench to spark Glenelg at both ends of the floor with some furious play. The Gladiators began to manhandle Hebron on the boards, and eventually out-rebounded them, 38-28. And Glenelg started playing Hebron-like, man-to-mandefense.
All those factors combined to produced a stunning 18-3 Glenelg run. It concluded with an off-balance, 12-foot jumper by Dorsey at the halftime buzzer, which tied the score at 24.
The Gladiators then missed three chances to take the lead early in the second half, while Hebron showed the mettle that has brought it to Catonsville year after year by hunkering down in its scrappy, man-to-man alignment. The Vikings scored the first six points of the half to take a 30-24 lead and never let Glenelg (17-7) get closer than four.
Still, Hebron (22-3), which won its 14th straight game, didn't put Glenelg away until senior guard Christy McCauley's two free throws gave the Vikings a 46-33 lead with 1 minute, 57 seconds left in the game. All of which had coach Wolf fairly tickled in defeat.
"I'm upset that we lost, but I can't ask for anything more than what they gave me. They killed themselves out there for me today," said Wolf.
"They stuck with me all year, knowing I was a first-year coach right out of college," she added. "We're a very skilled team. If we could play intensebasketball for four quarters, I don't see how we'd have a problem against anybody. We always seem to have two OK or bad quarters. But holding Hebron to only 47 points with our man-to-man defense says something about us."
After a 14-point outburst in the second quarter, the Gladiators managed just 16 points in the second half, and shot just16-for-56 (28.6 percent) on the night. But Hebron, which came into the game averaging 59.3 points, was worse, hitting just 24.5 percent of their shots from the floor (13 of 53).
The offensive differencesfor Hebron were the McCauley sisters -- guards Christy and Erica -- and the Vikings' foul shooters, which went 18-for-23 at the line.
Christy scored a game-high 15 points, hitting five of six free throwsand two three-pointers in the first period that got Hebron rolling. Erica, guarded closely by Glenelg outside, worked hard inside and at the line for her 13 points on 4-for-15 shooting, 4-for-5 at the foul line. Guard Emily Yanero (six points) was 4-for-4 at the line.
Dorsey led the Gladiators with 10 points and 13 rebounds, including eight rebounds in the first half. Kristy Moore had nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Jenny Leedom added 10 points.
"We shot poorly and made some poor decisions to help them out, but they (Glenelg) played great defensively," Greenberg said. "I guess when you've handled ateam twice and get up early, you tend to relax."