Fallston played well defensively but couldn't convert on the offensive end, as Williamsport ended the Cougars' surprising state title bid with a 34-21 victory in the Class 1A championship game yesterday at Catonsville Community College.
The Cougars (18-6) held top-seeded Williamsport well below its 58-point scoring average, but couldn't score themselves. They hit nine of 48 shots, including one of 14 in the third quarter.
"Some of that is being tired," said Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson. "We weren't getting any lift on the ball and that's legs. But too we hesitated more on our shots tonight. We had the open shot, but we didn't take it. We hesitated or took a dribble."
For the third-seeded Cougars, who had as many as four freshmen on the court against Williamsport, just reaching the title game was remarkable. They lost four games early in the season, including one each to Class 3A champ Linganore and Class 2A champ Hammond.
But the Cougars bounced back mostly on the strength of their defense, usually a quick-moving 1-2-2 zone. They went on to win 14 of their last 15 coming into the title game.
Williamsport, however, hadn't lost all season. The Wildcats (23-0) knocked off two-time defending champ Westmar in their regional championship, providing plenty of momentum to carry them to their first state championship.
Coach Glenn Smith had four players who have been together for three years, including 6-2 center Carla Houser (seven points, eight rebounds), 5-9 forward Paige Graff (seven points, 18 rebounds) and 5-6 point guard Selena Wilkes (12 points, three assists).
Smith said experience played a big role in his team's victory. "The kids I have are a little bit older and I've had them with me for three years," he said. "Nancy has some really young kids. They're outstanding players, but they're young."
Ferguson had to go to some of her youngsters early when veteran forwards Tammy Kloiber and Pam Toth got into foul trouble. Kloiber picked up her third in the first quarter. Toth, the Cougars' leading scorer, had three midway in the second quarter.
In the first quarter, Fallston had converted on three Wildcats turnovers to take an 8-7 lead. But Williamsport scored the next seven points and took the lead for good.
With 3:49 left before halftime, Toth picked up her third foul. Ferguson went with four freshmen, starter Lori Heffley (seven points), Suzy Harrison, Jenny Weber and Candy Credito, along with veteran guard Cindy Jenkins for the next six minutes.
The Cougars got within 14-12 when Weber hit a 17-footer and fed Credito for a layup. But that was as close as they could get.
FALLSTON -- Weber 2, Toth 5, Credito 2, Heffley 7, Jenkins 2, Kloiber 1, Lauer 2. Totals: 9 2-4 21.
WILLIAMSPORT -- Mullendore 2, Houser 7, Wilkes 12, Graff 7, Davis 2, Shropshire 4. Totals: 14 5-11 34.
Fallston 8 4 3 6 -- 21
Williamsport 7 9 6 12 -- 34