Members of the Severn girls basketball team were hoping to ride the momentum of a victory yesterday into next week's Association of Independent Schools Tournament.
Instead, after a near miss, the Admirals spoke of renewed confidence and rekindled hopes of a better showingin the post-season.
They stayed close to Park until the bitter end, when the visitingBruins escaped with a 51-42 win. Severn's losing streak reached three games, but unlike the previous losses to St. Paul's, 42-22, and Catholic, 57-20, this one didn't leave such a bitter aftertaste.
"We finally got our energy going. We all felt it," said senior forward Jen Wassif, who scored 10 points. "Our last few games, we weren't into them mentally, I don't think. But we finally did it today, even though we lost."
Severn took its only lead, 8-7, on two Wassif free throws with 3 minutes, 8 seconds left in the first quarter. The Admiralsnever trailed by more than nine points, and got within two, 33-31, late in the third quarter.
Not bad, considering the Bruins were packing a 10-3 overall record, 4-0 in the AIS B West Division, and couldwind up as the top seed in the tournament. The seedings will be determined over the weekend.
"They're an excellent team, but we playedthe most aggressive and the best we ever have. It's a mental achievement," said Wassif, after Severn fell to 6-6 overall, 4-4 in the B conference and 2-3 in the West. "I think we can go pretty far in the tournament."
So does second-year coach Rhonda Warmsley, providing the Admirals make certain improvements on offense.
"We need to concentrate on taking good shots and making those shots, especially from the foul line," she said. "But it looks like we've gotten our defense back."
The defense of freshman forward Heidi Hammes, who clamped down on Park's Monica Brinkley, helped keep Severn close. Brinkley already had 10 points in the first half when Warmsley sent in Hammes with the instructions, "Don't let that tall girl out of your sight."
The 5-foot-11 junior only scored three points in the second half to finish with a team-high 13.
Leading 28-20 after one half, the Bruins were rationed to seven points in the third quarter. Severn had numerous chances to tie the score in the final two minutes, after Anne Schorreck took an Emily Franey pass in the lane and buried a jumper to make the score 33-31. But the Admirals came up empty on their next four possessions, and a Becky Rosenberg follow with 26 seconds remaining gave Park a 35-31 lead after three quarters.
Park scored the next five points to lead, 40-31, but a Wassif free throw with 33 secondsleft drew Severn within six, 48-42. The Bruins committed a turnover,but Wassif missed from the outside, and Schorreck (eight points) hadher follow attempt rejected by Brinkley.
Park's Kathy Richman made a free throw with 9 seconds left, and teammate Alexa Wilder hit a baseline jumper at the buzzer to account for the final margin.
"If we had played this well against all the teams that we lost to, we would have won those games," said Sarah Franey, a senior center who led all scorers with 14 points, including a three-point shot with 50 seconds left that cut Park's lead to 47-41.
"I think they intimidated us at first because they're ranked above us. I think we expected to lose, but then we started playing well. We just couldn't pull it off."
"They're a good team, and they play real good man-to-man defense," said Park coach Robin Willard. "I'd like to avoid this team in the tournament. I'd rather read about them in the paper."