WESTMINSTER — Two TTI players each missed frantic, close shots in the final moments of Sunday's Carroll County Women's Basketball League post-season tournament championship game.
After the second miss, one player yelled out in frustration, "I can't believe this."
But believable or not, missing shots was an afternoon-long fact of life for the South Carroll-based TTI squad as Spangler won its first Women's League post-season crown since 1987 with a 48-33 win at East Middle School.
Time after time, TTI expertly passed the ball around for easy open jumpers or even layups -- and missed.
"We have acouple of good shooters, but our scoring has been inconsistent this year," said TTI player Lisa Zuretti of her squad's offensive woes.
That wasn't the case when her squad beat Russel Athletic, the league's first-place regular-season team, in the tournament semifinals two weeks ago.
"That was our best game of the year," Zuretti said.
Her squad needed a duplicate effort Sunday.
"We knew we had to play good defense and get the rebounds (against the taller Spangler team)," Zuretti said. "We didn't want them getting two and three shots atthe basket.
"And I think we did that," added the 1985 South Carroll alumna.
But you also have to score points.
TTI, sponsored byTechnical Typesetting Inc. of Baltimore County, shot a tepid 15-for-55 from the field in the game and was only six-for-28 in the first half.
Then Spangler, led by Western Maryland College grad Barb Wolf,who scored 10 of her game-high 17 points, pulled into a 10-point 23-13 lead, from which TTI never recovered.
In fact, Wolf was her team's entire early scorer, hitting Spangler's first 10 points on insidedrives which TTI was powerless to stop.
Her two foul shots early in the game put Spangler ahead 6-4, and the team never looked back.
TTI adjusted with a box-and-one defense to slow the elusive Wolf, now the girls basketball coach at Glenelg High in Howard County, but Spangler's outside shooting game picked up the slack.
Caitlin Monroe, another Western Maryland graduate, hit three jumpers from the perimeter to keep her team comfortably ahead as halftime approached.
While Spangler player Becky Martin was happy that Wolf's inside play "ate their man-to-man defense up" in the first half, she added that balance has been the big reason for Spangler's success this year.
"We don't have a one-dimensional game. We can go inside or outside," said Martin, an alumna of Westminster High and Western Maryland College, and now the Green Terrors head coach.
Martin said a late-season practice, her team's only one of the year, was needed to put its offense in gear.
"We've always done well (in the Women's League), they're talented young ladies," said Martin of her squad, which is comprised almost completely of former Terror basketballers. "We've won games, but we weren't organized. We free-lanced a lot."
But, she said,the league has gotten stronger, and talent alone is no longer enough.
"We needed a practice to set up our defense and offense. It turned our season around as we approached post-season play," Martin said.
Her team responded by winning its final regular-season game and then topped WRF Plumbery in the semifinal game to make the championship game.
Early in the second half of that final contest, TTI revived a bit as guard Mary Kay Falice, who led the team with 10 points, and Michele Whiteside, hit shots to close the gap to 23-17.
But Spangler turned it on again as Colleen Gohegan hit three long jumpers andCindy Boyer two short shots to key a 12-4 spurt and put Spangler into a commanding 35-21 lead. Both, not surprisingly, are former WMC standouts.
Midway through the second 20-minute half, TTI drew to within 35-23 behind the outside shooting of Falice, the only player able to consistently pierce the lid that seemingly covered the Spangler basket most of the game.
But Wolf, who had been silent since early in the game, hit two rebound baskets to thwart that last comeback.
Zuretti, however, said the league has not heard the last of TTI.
"This is our first year, and we weren't used to working together, but we've come a long way this season. We'll be back," she said.