DAMASCUS — Linda Kilpatrick could only cringe as she watched her Southern girlsbasketball team misfire its way to a 67-47 loss to top-seeded Damascus in Friday night's Class 2A Region III final.
Occasionally the 15-year coach would stomp her foot on the hardwood in frustration or throw her arms skyward in a plea for some sort of divine intervention,but mostly she'd just cringe.
"Everything they threw up went in, and everything we threw up went around the rim and back out," said Kilpatrick, whose Bulldogs converted a dismal 17 of 49 from the field and an equally disappointing 7 of 21 at the foul line.
"I've been to enough of these games, and one thing I've always said is, 'If you get to this point in the season, it's not just skill, you need a little luck.' "
The home-standing Hornets probably would have preferred to put some of their good fortune on lay-away for next week's state championships at Catonsville Community College, but Damascus coach Barbara King wasn't complaining a bit.
"This is probably the best I've seen my kids play all year," said King, whose team advanced to the final by routing Catoctin of Frederick County, 58-46, last Wednesday.
"If you're going to bringit all together one night, the region finals is a great time to do it."
Southern, which advanced to Friday's finale by turning away visiting Central of Prince George's County, 54-40, Wednesday, fell behind in the early going, 11-4.
But it was still in the ballgame whenthe first period ended, thanks solely to Laekeka Wesley. The 6-foot sophomore center scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulldogs, who trailedby two heading into the second quarter.
The Hornets (18-4), who never had been to a region final in King's seven-year tenure at the Montgomery County school, regained control of the offensive boards in the second quarter, and following a three-pointer from junior guard Theresa Arnett, owned a 25-18 advantage.
The Bulldogs' second-quarter shooting performance was not at all indicative of a squad with visions of capturing its 10th region title. Southern (14-10) connected onjust 3 of 11 field goals in the period and trailed at the half, 29-21.
Senior Talaya Barnett (12 points) opened the second half with a12-foot jumper that cut the lead to six, but the hot-handed hosts answered with a barrage of fast breaks that widened the margin to 37-23with 4 minutes, 23 seconds still left in the third quarter. Damascusnever looked back.
Wesley finished with a team-high 17 points forSouthern, while seniors Lindee Sisk and Kim Smith checked out with seven points and six points, respectively.
Arnett poured in a game-high 25 points for the victors and surpassed the 1,000 career point mark in the process.
"I was disappointed with our rebounding tonight, but I thought we were pretty patient on offense for the most part," Kilpatrick said. "We were getting the shots we wanted to take, theyjust weren't going in."
And all she could do was cringe.