BRUNSWICK -- Stephanie Stambaugh said she hadn't been practicing her foul shots lately.
You couldn't have convinced the crowd at Brunswick High of that last night.
The Francis Scott Key senior scored a team-high 23 points and hit clutch free throws late in regulation and both overtimes to help the Eagles escape with a 63-62 victory over Brunswick in the Class 1A South region final.
The win sends the Eagles to the state tournament for the first time since 1988, when Brooklyn Park toppled Key in the Class C semifinals. Key (23-3) ill Mardela at 7 p.m. Friday at UMBC.
"I don't know if I wanted [to go to the foul line] that much," said Stambaugh, who hit 11 of 17 from the stripe. "I was really shaky on my foul shots."
Stambaugh, who's headed for North Carolina State to play volleyball next year, hit two of four free throws in the last two minutes of regulation, but Brunswick's Julie Foltz hit two from the line with 16 seconds to go to force the first overtime.
Key started the first overtime with a 6-0 run and led 53-49 after Stambaugh hit the first of two foul shots with 11.5 seconds left in overtime. But Foltz hit a 12-footer with two seconds to play and the Railroaders called a time out.
On the ensuing inbounds play, Brunswick's Gretchen Unger stole the pass on the baseline and made a 12-footer at the buzzer to knot the score at 53 and give the Eagles a feeling of deja vu. Unger had hit a three-pointer from near half-court to give the Railroaders a 60-57 win over Key on Feb. 11.
Key started the next overtime with another 6-0 run, and Stambaugh made the score 61-55 on a layup and foul shot with just over a minute to go. But Foltz, Brunswick's all-time leading scorer, hit two of three foul shots after Key's Sindi Stem committed her fifth foul on Foltz outside the three-point arc. Unger followed with a layup off a steal and Jamie Cable made a fouls shot to close the margin to 61-60.
But Cable missed the second free throw, Stambaugh pulled in the rebound and was promptly fouled with 6.9 seconds to play. She calmly sank both shots to put Key up 63-60.
"I think the spectators got their money's worth," said coach Bill Martin, whose Railroaders were ranked No. 2 among the state's Class 1A schools, one spot ahead of Key.
"When they got that score to tie us, I think our kids got a little angry," said Key coach Alice Smith, her voice hoarse from yelling defensive instructions throughout the game.
Pub Date: 3/09/97