Lions top DuVal for title

March 13, 1994|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

Howard's Cinderella story has a happy ending.

The fourth-seeded Lions (16-11) edged DuVal, 47-41, last night at UMBC to win the state Class 3A championship and cap a storybook season that saw them emerge from the sixth-seeded spot in the East region.

"That shows the character of this team," said Howard coach Craig O'Connell, whose team lost in the state semifinal last year. "We were last seeded in the region and last seeded in this tournament and we worked our way through. I always thought we were good, but you have to go out and prove it."

The Lions won the title the same way they had won the six games leading up to it -- with a fierce man-to-man defense and a balanced offense.

Emily Moore, who has averaged 16 points through the playoffs, struggled offensively but held DuVal's top scorer, Tiffany Moss, to 17 points, well below her 25-point average.

Yamika Blackston led the Lions with 15 points while Mona Jackson added 13. Point guard Rebecca Powell, who was 7-for-7 from the field in the state tournament, added eight.

"Emily, Mona and Yamika are always hitting big baskets," said Powell, who also had three steals and some key baskets of her own. "Mona hits some big threes and she's always beating everybody."

Jackson sealed the win on a breakaway layup with 24 seconds left. The Tigers, whose only lead came at 3-2, had pulled within 45-41 when Shannon Davis hit a layup with 39 seconds remaining.

Howard turned the ball over on its next two possessions, but the Tigers' Antoinette Winters could not convert the resulting three-point attempts. When the ball kicked out of a crowd on the last rebound, Jackson grabbed it and drove for the layup.

The Tigers (19-7) had got as close as two earlier in the quarter. Moss hit a follow to cut a six-point Howard third-quarter lead to 39-37.

Megan Boehm found Moore on the base line for a 12-footer to answer. Neither team hit anything for the next three minutes, but Moore forced a turnover on the sideline and took a charge to spark Howard.

With 1:57 to go, Powell hit a short jumper to put the Lions up 43-37. Moss answered, feeding 6-0 center Tonya Cunningham for a layup.

But Moss picked up her fifth foul on the next play, and that all but killed DuVal's chances.

"We do everything with her," said DuVal coach Walter Clark. "She's our go-to person. It was late when she went out. I couldn't put my finger on any one thing, except that [Howard] played real well, and they deserve all the credit."

Early on, DuVal could not find its range, and the Lions rolled to a 10-4 lead.

Each time the Tigers came back to tie, the Lions answered with a scoring run. At 13-13 midway through the second quarter, Howard went on a 13-2 run.

Late in the third quarter, Renee Jordan hit a driving layup to tie at 33, but Blackston answered with a 20-footer. Her free throw and Jackson's 10-foot pull-up jumper put the Lions ahead 39-33 after three.

"It was the same scenario," said O'Connell, whose team played five carbon-copy games in the playoffs. "We play hard in the first quarter, build a lead and then something happens to put us in jeopardy of losing it. But that shows the mettle of this team. They want all that kind of adversity. It bothers me, but it doesn't seem to bother them."

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