Hot shooting was something C. Milton Wright head coach George Constantine knew his Mustangs would need against Catonsville (21-2) in the boys basketball regional semifinals Thursday night.
But at top-seeded Catonsville, the fourth-seeded Mustangs ran into some stingy man-to-man defense and an even stingier rim.
The Mustangs' offensive struggles translated into a 72-53 loss tothe Comets in the Class 3A, Region II semifinal.
After falling behind 36-18 in the first half, the Mustangs found themselves playing catch-up the rest of the game. They trailed 56-38 going into the fourth quarter.
Senior Brian Moen led the Mustangs with 15 points and five rebounds, followed by Bill Simmons (14 points) and Brian Gryzb (nine points). Mike Weichert (five), Greg Stephen (six), Damon Kennard (two) and Joe Swam (two) also scored.
C. Milton Wright shot 10-for-28 from the field in the first half, digging themselves a hole they couldn't escape.
"The first half we couldn't hit anything," Moen said.
The Mustangs never even had a man at the free-throw line, while the Comets sank four of six, including two technicals.
"They did exactly what we expected they would do," Constantine said. "We wanted to try to get it into a half-court game if we could. We knew we would have to handle their pressure.
"Once you get behind in a situation like that," he added, "it's very difficult (to come back) against a team this talented."
"We've been down like that before," Weichert said after the game. "They're a good team, and we just couldn't stop their offense."
Catonsville made 18 of 40 shots in the first half, including their last seven.
Catonsville's James Lewis led allscorers with 22 points. The Comets' man-to-man defense forced several turnovers, and the Comets capitalized on transition.
Constantinesaid the shots that would not drop in the beginning of the game hurthis team the most. In the second half, the Mustangs heated up, goingeight-for-15 from the field and even nailing two three-pointers in arow, but could not cut its deficit to single digits.
"Our defensive pressure was excellent," said Catonsville head coach Art Gamzon. "We came out with great intensity. Our defense dictated tonight."
The Mustangs finished 18-6 on the year, a vast improvement over last year's 9-16 record.
"It's quite a turnaround," Constantine said. "Ithought we really played well. We had a great year, to go from a losing record to winning three out of every four."
In Tuesday's regional opener, Moen's three-pointers led the Mustangs to a 70-61 victoryover fifth-seeded Lansdowne (10-13).
The game remained close until Moen hit four straight three-pointers in a four-minute period. Three came on assists from Weichert, who found Moen wide open on the leftside. Moen's fourth 20-footer put the Mustangs ahead, 62-53, with 4:41 left in the game.
Moen led the Mustangs with 26 points, while Stephen added 16. Weichert had 14 assists.