Working the late shift Tough time: C. Milton Wright and Joppatowne have drawn 9 p.m. assignments for their state semifinal meetings.

March 06, 1996|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

C. Milton Wright and Joppatowne, Harford County's entries in the 24th annual state girls basketball tournament, will have some things in common this week when they play are in action at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

They are making repeat appearances and have drawn the 9 o'clock slot -- C.M. Wright tomorrow and Joppatowne Friday.

Wright, at 22-0 one of two unbeatens in the 16-team event (Class 2A Linganore is 23-0), will meet Richard Montgomery (22-3) from Rockville in a Class 3A semifinal at 9 p.m. The other pairing will be Frederick Douglass (22-3) and Howard (12-12).

A year ago, in its first state appearance, Wright lost to eventual champion Walt Whitman in a 9 p.m. semifinal.

In Class 1A, Joppatowne (14-10) will play Westmar (18-5). The Mariners lost to Easton in the 1994 final and to Southern-Garrett in the 1995 semifinals. Brunswick (23-2) and Washington (20-1), from Princess Anne, are in the other 1A semifinal

"The 9 o'clock game is tough -- tough on the players and tough because [starting that late] it hurts the fan support," Wright coach Gloria Liedlich said yesterday during a gathering of tournament coaches at the BWI Marriott. Even though four of the five starters went through it last year, "It makes the players think about it longer, but we'll get through it."

Her counterpart at Richard Montgomery has that school in its first state tournament. "I'm not sure how 9 o'clock will affect us," said Richard Montgomery's Watson Prather, whose team is in its first state tournament. "With a first time, you expect them to be nervous."

Roy Washington, Joppatowne's first-year coach, has a half-dozen players from last year's team, and although this is their first 9 o'clock game, he hopes their experience will help.

Wright's experienced players include senior starters Erin Updegrove (19.7 points, 9.2 rebounds), the school's all-time vTC scoring and assist leader, Amanda Moculski and junior Erin Lesh. Senior Miranda James missed the last half of last year, but otherwise is a three-year regular.

Lesh, a 5-foot-5 guard, had an excellent sophomore season, then did not play up to that level early this year. "I think the second Fallston game was a day of reckoning for her," Liedlich said. "She did not have a good game, but I believe she made a commitment to herself after that, because she has been sensational.

"She is playing well under pressure, getting others involved, and had the game of her career against Fallston [its only losses in a 16-3 season were to the Mustangs] in the regional final."

Richard Montgomery, working on a 15-game winning streak, has four starters from a solid team of a year ago. Along the way, one was injured and one was an academic casualty, but two backups have stepped in to play well.

The Rockets, who feature speed and quickness, are powered by 5-10 senior Kate Thirolf (21.8 points, 16.2 rebounds), the school's all-time scoring leader.

One thing that helped Joppatowne this year, according to Washington, was that ace Brandi Barnes had signed (U. of Maryland) before the season began, so there was little not that distraction. "She is willing to assume any role we ask of her, and we have asked her to do a lot," the coach said.

A late bonus has been the confidence shown on offense by freshman forward Monique Washington (no relation to the coach).

Pub Date: 3/06/96

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