Price, Centennial roll to regional title, 52-42 Senior's 18 points help keep J.M. Bennett at a distance in East

Class 3A/Girls basketball

March 09, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

SALISBURY -- Meredith Price and Icyis Richardson led Centennial to the Class 3A East regional championship last night at James M. Bennett, 52-42.

Price, a senior, scored a game-high 18 points and had eight rebounds. Richardson, a sophomore, scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds.

The seventh-ranked Eagles, who have won 14 straight, will play either Bladensburg or Friendly in the state semifinals at UMBC Thursday at 7 p.m.

"We're excited to be there," Centennial coach Dave Greenberg said. "This is the culmination of a three-year process."

For three quarters, Centennial (20-4) had a clear edge and took a 41-28 lead into the fourth quarter, after leading by as many as 17 points, 41-24.

James M. Bennett (18-6) suffered a mishap during pre-game warm-ups when starting forward Lauren White, who averages 12 points and six rebounds, was hit in the lip with an elbow and was unable to play.

"Her tooth went through her lip," James M. Bennett coach John Usilton said.

But the Clippers rallied in the final period behind sophomore point guard Jessie Brown and junior forward Brooke Murphy. Brown scored 11 points and Murphy had 16 points and six rebounds.

"Our game plan was to deny Brown," said Centennial forward Kathleen O'Connor. "She got frustrated with her teammates, and that helped us. We didn't know about Brown's outside shooting ability. We were lucky to come away with this."

James M. Bennett went on an 8-2 run to start the fourth quarter, and could have made it 10-2, but Erin Christensen missed a layup after making a steal.

"Then we panicked a bit," said Greenberg, who has won six state titles while coaching at Mount Hebron. "We struggled running our offense."

The Eagles missed 10 of 17 free throws in the final four minutes, and made five fourth-quarter turnovers.

Alexia Vogler, who was guarding Brown, helped the Eagles by scoring all five of her points in the final period, however. She made a crucial steal and layup to break James M. Bennett's run and put the Eagles ahead, 45-36.

The Clippers never came any closer than six points, trailing 48-42 with 1: 05 to play.

"I think our man-to-man defense bothered them in the second half," Brown said. "We just decided to get fired up at halftime."

Centennial made 10 turnovers in the second half, after making just five in the first half.

Brown said Price was the deciding factor. "And their offensive rebounding killed us," Brown said.

Centennial received an unexpected six rebounds from guard Michelle Kincaid in the first half, and four rebounds from guard Mallory Groves in the second half.

Price held 6-foot-1 senior Clippers center Amy Tribeck to two points.

"Meredith is a great defender and we had the quickness to deny Tribeck the ball," said O'Connor, who scored eight points and had three rebounds.

Pub Date: 3/09/97

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