Howard upsets Poly, 42-33

March 06, 1994|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,Contributing Writer

Less than 24 hours before yesterday's Class 3A East Region final at 16th-ranked Poly, Howard had stunned No. 6 Mount Hebron with smothering man-to-man defense.

The effort not only drained Howard, but also its coach.

"I was exhausted myself and I didn't run up the floor one time," Howard coach Craig O'Connell said. "They did it all night. And now I'm saying to them before [yesterday's] game, now you have to do it again."

And the Lions did.

Sixth-seeded and unranked Howard used another stellar defensive performance to defeat top-seeded Poly, 42-33, and return to the Class 3A state semifinals for the second straight year.

The Lions (14-11) will meet an opponent to be determined on Thursday at UMBC.

"Physically, I didn't think we'd be able to step up and play, but we did it," O'Connell said.

O'Connell was worried that Friday night's semifinal win over Howard County rival Mount Hebron -- which had beaten the Lions twice during the regular season -- also had taken its toll emotionally.

"If we were to lose [to Poly], we really wouldn't have gotten a chance to savor Friday's victory," he said. "We would have left school on Friday, and come back Monday, really, as losers."

Instead, the Lions will return to school tomorrow with a plaque awarded to the regional champion.

Howard's defense caused problems for the Engineers (20-4) from the outset.

The Lions forced Poly into committing 13 turnovers and 5-for-23 shooting from the field in the first half.

The Engineers managed only five offensive rebounds in the half, as Howard raced to a 14-2 lead.

Senior guard Emily Moore scored 10 of her game-high 16 points in the first quarter.

To make matters worse for Poly, sophomore forward Kelly Logan -- the Engineers' leading scorer at 12.4 points per game -- suffered a torn ligament in her right knee just 3:30 into the game and did not return.

"I'm not going to say we would have won had Kelly been in the game, but she makes a tremendous difference," Poly coach Mark Sawyer said.

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