To prevent Meade from getting any closer than its 24-14 halftime deficit, Arundel girls basketball coach Lee Rogers knew he needed to throw in a new wrinkle to thwart the Mustangs' late second-quarter comeback.
Rogers' remedy -- full-court pressure defense -- paid heavy dividends for the Wildcats, as they went on to outscore the Mustangs, 18-3, in the third period, and coast to a 55-31 win in the first semifinal of the Arundel Holiday Tournament yesterday.
In the second game of the morning, Westminster of Carroll County held on to advance to today's championship game, subduing Northeast, 56-47.
"I think (the press) really got us going because it was such an early game (9:15 a.m.), I guess we weren't awake yet," said Rogers. "The kids were kind of cold, so we did it just to get ourselves awake."
The Mustangs (0-4) were kept scoreless for nearly the firstsix minutes of the opening quarter, and were probably thankful that the hosts could manufacture only nine points during their shooting skein.
"We're not as bad a team as we showed today. We just weren't boxing out at all, and they (Arundel) were getting a lot of easy re
bounds," said Meade coach Molly Wilson. "That's how we keep other teams in the game and let them blow us out.
"We don't get to the ball quick enough, we don't box out when we need to, and we're lazy on defense.
We kept getting behind their big people cutting through the lane, and they wound up killing us with the inside shots."
During the last four minutes of the second period, the 'Cats (3-3, ranked19th in the Baltimore area) were only able to muster a free throw from sophomore point guard Courtney Finch, while Meade would go on to close a 17-point gap to nine on an Adrian Toles turnaround jumper with45 seconds remaining in the first half.
Senior Latoy Long led theway for the winners with 16 points. The 5-foot-10 senior also grabbed seven rebounds, sharing the team lead with Julie Musitano.
"(Latoy) is starting to play a lot better," Rogers said. "Her level of confidence is getting a whole lot better. She and a couple others in thepast would be afraid to take their shots. Now, if they miss, they don't get down on themselves."
Juniors Alina Smith and Virginia Gonski added nine points each, while Mary Pat Fannon had eight. The Mustangs were paced by Tenkia Matthews with nine points and Connie Fink with eight.
Westminster (4-2) looked as though it would run the Eagles (3-3) out of the gymnasium, implementing a vicious man-to-man press to bolt ahead 18-4 after the first 4 1/2 minutes of the game. KenyaWarfield (eight points), along with ball-hawking guards Steph Morningstar and Judy Marcus (team-high 12 points) tallied 14 of those points.
Northeast gradually began climbing out of its hole by tallying seven straight in the period's last three minutes -- after Owls' coach Bernie Koontz began making wholesale substitutions.
"We did a good job of coming out ready to play, although a couple people coming off of the bench weren't quite ready, but they (eventually) overcame that dry spell (at the end of the quarter)," said Koontz.
Debbi Dadds brought the Eagles to within three, 39-36, with two minutes remaining in the third quarter with a put-back of an offensive rebound. Dadds would finish with game-high totals in points (19) and rebounds (14).
"Our last game against Arundel (a 57-46 loss last Thursday) we were 23 down in the last quarter. And we did a good job of coming back today," said Northeast coach Calvin Vain Sr. "We just don't get offto really good start, and that's been evident in all of our games. We've been averaging about eight points during the first quarter this year."
Dadds' layup with just under six minutes left would get theEagles as close as they could get for the rest of the contest, 47-43, as Stacy Reynolds (10 points) hit a three-pointer at 3:34, and a meaningless foul shot with 40 seconds left to play would end the scoring for the Northeast. Freshman Jen Johansen and Maleah Rey registered eight points each in a losing cause.
Vain said, "I think we have alot better ball movement and a lot more speed. The thing that's missing is the experience and maturity of people like (1991 graduates Stephanie) Lazor and (Kristy) Zulka. But hopefully that will develop in time for the playoffs."