Catonsville coach Dennis Quinby thought he had a sound game plan to defeat C. Milton Wright, but even he was surprised at its success.
Using full-court pressure defense and denying the ball inside, co-No. 20 and top-seeded Catonsville rolled to a 66-35 rout of the visiting and third-seeded Mustangs (19-4) in the Class 3A, Region II final last night.
The win sends the Comets (19-3) to the state semifinals for the second straight season, at Catonsville Community College on Thursday.
"I thought we could beat [C. Milton Wright], but not by 31 points," Quinby said. "I knew our guards were better than theirs. I didn't think they could handle our pressure."
Catonsville's pressure defense stopped the Mustangs from setting up their offense, which neutralized C. Milton Wright center Stacey Milton. Milton, who entered the game averaging 16.4 points and 12.6 rebounds, had just two points at halftime and finished with six.
The Comets forced C. Milton Wright into 25 turnovers and 16-for-60 shooting from the field.
"Their pressure on the ball just made the difference," Mustangs coach Gloria Liedlich said. "It just threw us off our game."
Catonsville's offense wasn't bad either. The Comets took advantage of their edge in quickness, maintaining a fast tempo throughout the game.
After the Mustangs took leads of 4-2 and 6-4, Catonsville took control. The Comets ended the first quarter on a 16-2 run to take a 20-8 lead. Jill Altshuler scored 11 in the quarter.
Altshuler and Amanda Deems each scored a game-high 15 points for Catonsville, and Amy Kuehnl added 10.
The Comets extended their lead to 34-15 at halftime and led by at least 17 throughout the second half.
"I think we're finally starting to play to our potential," said Quinby, whose team routed Franklin, 75-38, in a semifinal game on Wednesday.
Quinby also said he hoped the decisive victory sent a message about the caliber of basketball in Baltimore County.
"Baltimore County schools don't get a lot of respect," he said. "But I think we can play with a lot of teams."