When Old Mill unexpectedly won the state Class 4A girls basketball championship last year, its young players were asked how they would cope with the pressure of trying to repeat.
The Patriots (22-1) provided the answer again last night, rolling to their 17th straight victory, 57-28, over fourth-seeded Arundel in a Class 4A, Region IV semifinal.
Top-seeded Old Mill forced the Wildcats (15-9) into two long scoring droughts in winning its 25th consecutive game against Anne Arundel County teams.
Arundel didn't score in the second quarter until 42 seconds remained, and the Patriots went on a 19-0 run that broke open a close game. Old Mill led, 32-13, at halftime, and held the Wildcats without a point through all but the last three seconds of the third quarter.
The win sets up another meeting with Broadneck, which stayed ahead of Old Mill for most of their regular-season game before succumbing, 51-47, on Jan. 31. The second-seeded Bruins (20-3) advanced to the region finals by downing third-seeded Annapolis, 50-19, last night.
Arundel was coming off a 57-45 quarterfinal win over North County Monday, its first playoff victory since 1984. But the Wildcats were stopped by an Old Mill team that continues to go unchallenged since the Broadneck scare, having outscored its past nine opponents by an average of 33.4 points a game.
"The kids are coming out playing with a lot of intensity, and I have to give them credit for that," said Patriots coach Pat Chance.
Old Mill junior forward Stacy Himes had a game-high 12 points, and her five rebounds helped the Patriots to a 48-25 edge on the boards. Junior guard Alina Smith led Arundel with nine points.
The Wildcats never adjusted to Old Mill's zone trap, which forced the visitors into 20 first-half turnovers and 4 of 15 shooting from the field. Arundel committed 33 turnovers for the game, including six straight to open the second quarter, and only made seven field goals.
All 13 Patriots saw playing time, as Chance continually shuffled in fresh bodies to provide backcourt pressure. Every Old Mill player either scored or grabbed a rebound.
"We just have such good depth," said junior guard Lee Ann Lezzer, who scored nine first-half points. "No matter who we put in, we're always strong. And a lot of teams don't have that."