Her team had won three straight going into yesterday's game against Annapolis, but North County girls basketball coach Sally Entsminger didn't feel especially proud of its play in recent weeks.
Her opinion didn't change after one half against the visiting Panthers, when the Knights committed 13 turnovers, went the first 6 minutes, 46 seconds of the second quarter without scoring, committed seven more fouls than their opponent and watched a 12-5 lead turn into a 20-16 halftime deficit.
"We were flat, and they get frustrated and force things," Entsminger said. "We had a lot of good shots, but we missed a lot of good shots."
But the Knights would recover, as they have many times in winning six of their first nine games.
They turned the tables on Annapolis, holding the Panthers without a field goal in the fourth quarter and rallying for a 40-32 victory.
The Panthers, losers of two straight, are 3-3 with a game tomorrow against Arundel, owner of a five-game winning streak.
"We just got out-hustled," said Annapolis second-year coach Teresa Ross. "Our people underneath weren't getting rebounds. We were letting them go wherever they wanted to offensively. We were throwing high passes that were intercepted. They just played harder than we did. We had a lapse where we just stood around."
And watched shot after shot fail to drop. And pass after pass wind upin the wrong hands.
Annapolis took a 28-26 lead into the fourth quarter but then managed only four free throws. The Panthers had sevenstraight turnovers and finished with 30, compared with 22 for North County.
To complicate matters, the Panthers lost their leading scorer, senior forward Lisa Roberts, to fouls with 4:43 left. She entered the game averaging 14.2 points but took just six shots and finishedwith 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The Knights started quickly, hitting their first four shots, and six of their first nine, in building a seven-point advantage. But Annapolis closed the quarter with two Kai Simms free throws and an Aleks Rhines bank shot.
North County' initial basket in the second period didn't come until 1:14 remained, when senior Tonya Kolodziejski (six points, six rebounds) hit from thetop of the key. Teammate Nicki Faulkner followed her own miss with under a minute left to tie the score, 16-16, but Simms (eight points) sank two free throws and Roberts converted a Christi Samaras pass on the fast break.
North County missed its first seven shots and committed three turnovers to begin the third quarter, but Annapolis couldanswer only with baskets from Missy Gorden (five points) and Simms to extend its lead to 24-16.
The Knights' Becky Webb (nine points) sank a jumper from the baseline with 4:20 left in the quarter to end another drought, and North County eventually went ahead for good on aWebb free throw less than two minutes into the final period.
Withleading scorer Renita Johnson shooting poorly -- she was held to seven points, nearly half her average -- sophomore center Joy Farmer helped carry the Knights with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
She fouled out with 13 seconds left and received a standing ovation from the North County bench, including Entsminger.
"Joy Farmer played like she's capable of playing," Entsminger said. "And Renita didn't shoot well, but she hit the boards well."
Johnson had 10 rebounds and two blocks, and sophomore teammate Emma Ketterle came off the bench to score six points.
Despite the loss, the Panthers have shown marked improvement over last season, when they won five games and lost 17.
"We're a much better team; we have a much higher skill level," Ross said.
"But we're having problems working together right now. We get two or three people working hard and doing the right things, and another one or two that aren't doing that, and it's hurting us right now.
"Once we get everybody working together and working at the same level, we'll be pretty good."