S. Carroll eliminates defending champ, 56-41 Defense strong for Cavs

3rd shot at Linganore next

Class 3A/Girls basketball

March 07, 1997|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For visiting Richard Montgomery, the first half of last night's Class 3A West regional semifinal was about as ugly as it gets.

For No. 10 South Carroll, it was a work of art.

The Cavaliers held the defending Class 3A state champions to 13 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers in the half, methodically building their lead en route to a 56-41 victory.

"At times, our ball is called ugly ball, but it's effective for us," said South Carroll coach Al Skierski. "Defense has been our key all year. When we play good defense, the other teams may not look as good as they could."

The Cavaliers (19-5) advance in the tournament to tomorrow's region final, where they'll face defending Class 2A champion Linganore, a 66-58 winner last night over Magruder.

They did it with a lot of defense -- and a little good luck.

All told, South Carroll forced 27 turnovers and limited the Rockville team to 18 percent from the field. Rockets first-year coach Sissy Natoli, whose team had won six straight and 10 out of 11, couldn't explain why her team looked so ragged on offense.

"We couldn't get jump-started," said Natoli, whose team finished at 19-6. "We played real slow the first quarter, and that hurt. I think we weren't as focused as we usually are going into a game. The kids were nervous. We'd had two playoffs games previously, but I don't know why they were really nervous about this one."

The Cavaliers also had their share of troubles early on offense but quickly got their act together with the help of seniors Shannan Henley and Ce Wagener.

Henley carried South Carroll in stretches, scoring from inside and out on her way to a game-high 24 points. She hit three three-pointers in the second half to keep the Cavaliers in a double-digit lead for most of the final two quarters.

Wagener, a 6-2 center, scored 10 of her 14 points in the first quarter, helping the Cavaliers run to an early 16-6 lead, something Skierski said was crucial.

"That was real important," he said. "It's our home floor. It didn't give them the [feeling] like they could come into our place and take control. It put the pressure on them. They had to keep coming back and catching us."

The Rockets' only lead was 2-0, and they never got closer than four after the first quarter. Sophomore Heather Benson led them with 12 points, and senior Tania Harriday added 11.

The Cavaliers themselves committed 29 turnovers and looked shaky on offense throughout. Henley, however, said she knew it was only a matter of time before things worked themselves out.

Next up for South Carroll is Linganore, in a matchup that will pit the Cavaliers against their second state champion in as many games. The Lancers have already beaten South Carroll twice this season, by two and 15 points.

Pub Date: 3/07/97

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