For Spencer, a game she won't forget


January 25, 1995|By BILL FREE

On one incredible evening last week, Nicole Spencer probably was as good as any girls basketball player who ever played in Carroll County.

And the South Carroll senior's performance Tuesday night against Westminster came in one of the most important games of her four-year career.

It was the kind of game all athletes dream about.

Almost all of Spencer's shots fell, and the few that didn't go in were almost always rebounded by the 5-foot-9 center and put into the basket during a 62-42 South Carroll romp.

She dominated the game inside against two outstanding 5-foot-11 3/4 players, Beth Lister and Jill Ibex.

Scoring 33 points in 31 minutes, getting 15 rebounds and coming up with four steals is nothing to sneeze about in any game, but when the stakes were as high as they were that night one has to be especially impressed.

Westminster was the opponent, and anybody from the county knows how much it means when South Carroll meets Westminster in any sport.

Magnifying this game was the fact that the Owls are the defending county champs, having defeated the Cavaliers in a winner-take-all showdown at Westminster last season.

South Carroll had been saying all season: "Wait until we get you on our home court."

The game at South Carroll last season was canceled because of snow.

Also, a lot of people from Westminster questioned why South Carroll (11-1) deserved to be ranked No. 8, five notches ahead of Westminster (10-1) in the Baltimore Sun metro poll going into the game.

And for Spencer, there was the all-important matchup with Lister who is challenging her for Player of the Year honors in the county this season.

Spencer won that award last season and seemed to be a heavy favorite to win it for a second straight year. But Lister took some impressive stats (21 points, 11 rebounds) into that first showdown with Spencer (14.5 points, 10.3 rebounds).

Spencer reasserted herself last Tuesday, raising her average to 16 points and rebounds to 10.6. Lister reached her average of 21 points by scoring 15 in the second half.

Spencer erased any doubts about her shooting ability and knee problems.

Over the past two seasons, it has been frustrating to watch rTC Spencer make all the right moves inside and then throw the ball too hard off the backboard. It seemed as if she was pressing too much, and sometimes too hesitant.

There were no problems against the Owls.

Spencer said he just relaxed and told herself she was going to take the ball inside with confidence if the opportunity presented itself.

"In the past I've been intimidated about going inside too much but tonight I felt like I could do it," she said after the game.

Spencer and South Carroll seniors Amber Clutter and Melissa Gettemy have been through a lot during their four years together on the varsity, and now they head into the home stretch on a roll.

It was a testimony to the closeness between Spencer and Clutter in the final minutes of the game when Clutter, the team's point guard, was getting the ball to Spencer every time down the floor.

Clutter realized it was a special night for Spencer, and she was going to give her teammate an opportunity to enjoy every moment of it.

Clutter was plagued by foul trouble and the lingering effects of bronchitis, limiting her playing time to about half the game.

In many games, that would have severely hampered South Carroll's chances of winning, but not on the night Spencer rose to a higher level.

Spencer said she will enroll at Brigham Young University and try to make the women's team as a walk-on.

But some local schools, such as Towson State, are making a late bid for Spencer and offering scholarship help.

South Carroll will lose Mitchell

Whitney Mitchell, a junior reserve for South Carroll , will move with her family to Ohio the third week of February and miss the playoffs.

Mitchell has been part of a Cavaliers bench that has helped the team win 13 straight since losing its opener to Hammond.

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