Top-seeded Glenelg used the blue-collar method of beating second-seeded Middletown for the Class 2A Region I girls basketball championship Friday night -- defense and rebounding.
Those are the nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty elements of basketball, and the Gladiators played them to near perfection against the Knights (19-5).
"This was the best defensive team we've played all year," Middletown coach Jeff Gabriel said.
The resulting 58-41 victory gave the Gladiators (17-7) their second straight regional championship and putthem into the state semifinals Friday at Catonsville Community College against the winner of Friday's Mount Hebron-Hammond game.
Glenelg would like to play Mount Hebron again. The Gladiators already havelost twice to the Vikings but gave them fits both times.
"I thinkMiddletown was better than Mount Hebron, so if we can win tonight wecan win Friday," Glenelg forward Dana Hoffman said.
Hoffman yanked down a personal high of 18 rebounds Friday, taking away many Middletown offensive chances in the process.
"Coach (Chuck) Struhar toldus the only way we could win was to box out, and we did," Hoffman said. "We finally meshed as a team tonight."
She and Debbie Snyder were tremendous inside forces defensively. Snyder forced Middletown's leading scorer, Tracey Kelley, to work extremely hard for her 18 points.
"Any time you can force a big girl like Kelley to take her shots from outside, you've done your defensive job," Struhar said. "I really think Snyder was the key to the game. She also scored 13 points tonight."
Snyder scored several times off assists from Tanissa Dorsey, who played an outstanding all-around game with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists. Dorsey should have had three more assists, but her teammates' shots didn't fall.
In fact, both teams shot poorly. Glenelg was 22 for 61 (36 percent), and Middletown was 15 for 48(31 percent).
But Glenelg managed to involve all of its starting players in the flow, and all contributed.
"This was a really good team game for us tonight," said Sarah Jones, a strong outside shooterwho scored nine points.
Glenelg guard Jill Leedom scored 10 points.
Both teams displayed bad cases of the jitters early in the game, each turning the ball over three times.
Glenelg didn't exert itsdominance until late in the first half. Leedom sank two free throws with three minutes left, giving the Gladiators a 15-13 lead. Glenelg never trailed again.
Hoffman made a layup off an assist by Dorsey.Jones put in a rebound, and Glenelg soon led 19-14. It was 21-16 at halftime.
Dorsey made another nice assist to Snyder to start the third quarter and Snyder banked it home. When Leedom scored off another Dorsey assist midway through the period it was 30-20.
On Glenelg's next possession, Dorsey was fouled and Middletown's Jill Turner was called for a technical for complaining about the call.
Dorsey sank the two technical free throws and one of two from the personal foul and it was 33-20 with 3:42 left in the quarter.
Middletown neverdrew closer than 11 points the rest of the game.
"This really feels great," Hoffman said. "At the beginning of the year, I never thought we'd do this well."