Hammond rolls into rematch

March 12, 1994|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

The rematch is set.

This afternoon, the No. 1-ranked Hammond girls will have its chance to avenge last year's state title game loss to Middletown.

The top-seeded Golden Bears (22-1) ran past South River, 84-50, yesterday in a Class 2A semifinal at UMBC. Third-seeded Middletown (24-0) beat No. 6-ranked Fallston, 45-30, in the other semifinal to set up today's showdown.

Although the Bears earlier said they didn't care who they played in the state title game, they now say they're happy to have a shot at Middletown, which has won 58 straight.

"We tried not to look past South River," said Bears point guard Kacy Williams, "but we wanted to get back to the championship game. It's nice to play Middletown, and to have them again at full strength."

Last year, guard Tiki Nicholson missed the title game, making the backcourt matchup a bit difficult for the Bears. This time, Nicholson will not only give the Bears a boost on defense, but the 5-foot-7 guard is also trouble on offense.

Just ask South River (13-13).

Yesterday, Nicholson led the Bears with a game-high 24 points, including six in a 14-2 third-quarter run that broke the game open.

The Seahawks had pulled to within 45-34 on five straight free throws. But Hammond converted seven of its next nine shots to go up 59-36 after three quarters.

Hammond ended up with five players in double figures. In addition to Nicholson, Sonia Keiner had 17, Tameka Harrison, 13, Kellye Townsend, 11 and Rene Hines, 10.

"I liked our intensity, being relentless on offense. We kept on going after it and having breaks all the time," said Hammond coach Joe Russo, whose team missed tying the single-game scoring record by three points. Mount Hebron set the 87-point mark in 1988.

The Bears' tough man-to-man press set up the transition onslaught and sophomore forward Townsend played a fine defensive game on the Seahawks' top scorer, strong 6-0 forward Pam Patterson.

Patterson led the Seahawks with 21 points and 12 rebounds, but she got nine points on 9-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line.

In the first quarter, Patterson hit the only basket in 10 tries for South River. Against Hammond's press, the Seahawks turned the ball over 13 times. They gave up the ball on their first three possessions and Hammond took a 7-0 lead before South River put up a shot.

Said senior guard Keiner, who had seven steals: "We were trying to press them, and I think that was really effective in the first half. It rattled them."

The Bears ran out to a 12-0 lead and made it 31-12. But South River, the Cinderella story of 2A, rallied several times to pull within 10, and Hammond couldn't shake the Seahawks until that third-quarter run.

After falling behind 31-12 midway through the second quarter, the Seahawks rallied to within 10 on a nine-point run that included seven free throws. The Seahawks grabbed the momentum after Patterson hit four in a row, including a pair on a technical called for an incorrect Hammond jersey number in the score book.

Later in the quarter, the Seahawks cut it to 34-25 on back-to-back baskets by Cassidie Dunbar, who finished with 18. But they couldn't get closer.

For South River, the loss could not erase the thrill of a season-ending surge that brought the Seahawks from an 8-12 record to .500 and a state semifinal appearance.

"I'm totally satisfied with the season we had," said Patterson. "I can't be disappointed after this game. We went out and played the best we could. They're just a better team than we were. This is by far the best team we have ever played."

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