Young North Carroll falls but goes a long way

February 29, 1996|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FREDERICK -- His team's season had ended just minutes before, but North Carroll coach Greg Knill could not keep from smiling.

"I'm proud of the kids," said Knill. "I'm really pleased. These kids have rejuvenated me."

Despite watching Frederick use its superior quickness to force 25 North Carroll turnovers and score a 63-42 victory over the visiting Panthers in a Class 3A West Region semifinal last night, Knill said his team came a long way.

Knill said before the season that North Carroll (9-16) would use the regular season to get ready for the playoffs because it was loaded with underclassmen. And that's exactly what happened.

The Panthers grew throughout the season, got hot late and won three of their last four before last night -- including a two-point decision over Frederick last week.

"We found some kids who grew up behind the leadership of Kathleen Tunney," said Knill.

Tunney led the Panthers with 13 points, despite sitting out half of the final quarter with an injured ankle. The senior guard played well once again, but the young Panthers made some costly mistakes, especially in the first half.

Knill said North Carroll may have been a bit nervous early on. Still, the Panthers trailed only 18-13 when Jen Geiman (seven points) made a layup with 4:56 left in the half.

But Frederick (8-15) took over, scoring the final 12 points of the half for a 30-13 lead. The Cadets took advantage of North Carroll's 2-for-17 shooting in the second quarter, and the Panthers never again drew closer than 12.

The Cadets switched to a diamond-and-one defense in the second quarter to keep Tunney quiet, and they forced several turnovers. Heather Winter (20 points) and Krisma Jackson (10 points) repeatedly disrupted the North Carroll offense with their pressure.

North Carroll also missed several easy shots. Frederick, namely Samantha Biggus (12 points), often pressured the Panthers inside and made shooting an adventure.

The Panthers finally got moving in the second half, but suffered several bad breaks. Jamie Nave (six points) fouled out with six seconds left in the third quarter, Geiman struggled with a migraine and Tunney injured her ankle early in the fourth quarter.

North Carroll wound up without two or three starters for much of the fourth quarter. But it still had its best run of the game.

The Panthers forced seven turnovers and held Frederick to just two baskets in the first six minutes of the quarter. Tunney limped back into the game with with four minutes left and her two free throws 45 seconds later cut the lead to 54-42.

But Jackson again helped force some more turnovers, and Frederick scored the game's final nine points to seal the victory.

"Team quickness [was] supposed to be a strength," said Frederick coach Tony Driebelbies. "Tonight it finally helped."

Said Tunney: "They have quicker athletes than we do, and it did hurt us."

But the Panthers still had a season that made Knill happy. He said the last few years had been difficult for him, but this team made it all fun again.

"I can't be more proud of these kids," said Knill. "I will point to all nine of them when I say I feel good about basketball at North Carroll."

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