Key contains Akram, downs Mardela to reach state final First time in championship for Eagles since 1978

Class 1A/Girls basketball

March 15, 1997|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The Francis Scott Key Eagles had heard all week how unstoppable Mardela senior standout Rasheedah Akram was.

Last night, Akram, the state's all-time career leader in scoring, was stopped.

The No. 20 Eagles limited Akram to 20 points, 17 under her season's average, as they came away with a smothering 47-40 win over Mardela in the Class 1A state semifinals at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

The Eagles, playing in the state title game for the first time since 1978, will meet Northern of Garrett County, a 43-23 winner over Rising Sun in last night's other semifinal, at 6 tonight at UMBC.

Aside from some extra time spent on defense during the week, there was no big secret to the Eagles' success.

"We just played our defense, what we know. We had a hand in her face and knew we had to box out and rebound," said sophomore guard Sindi Stem. "We heard how she was unstoppable, but one person can't beat five."

The Eagles (24-3) played their usual man-to-man and one-three-one zone defenses with junior guard Jessica Matos often having the assignment of guarding Akram.

There was always plenty of help. The Eagles did a good job of getting a second player to help when she had the ball.

After the Eagles limited Akram, who finished her career with 3,565 points, to just 11 points midway through the fourth quarter, she was heard from.

With the Eagles leading 36-30 midway through the fourth quarter, Akram hit a three-pointer, got a steal and layup and got another steal and was fouled with 3: 29 left. Her two free throws provided the Warriors (22-4) with a 37-36 lead -- their first since midway through the first quarter.

The Eagles had an answer, scoring on their next four possessions for an 8-0 run to give them an opportunity to win their first state championship.

Stem started it with an open jumper from 15 feet. Nicole Keffer, who came off the bench and saw limited playing time due to an injured knee, followed with a jumper. Stem hit another jumper. Then it was Keffer again.

Matos, who finished with 11 points to go along with her fine defensive effort, said the Eagles' 47-46 double-overtime win at Brunswick in the region final helped keep them composed.

"After the win at Brunswick, it doesn't matter how many seconds or minutes are left. We had the heart and wanted to win," she said.

Everyone shared in the effort for Key.

Matos scored the team's first eight points. Senior center Stephanie Stambaugh scored 15 points, added eight rebounds and blocked three shots.

Stem played the relentless defense, dished out four assists and scored the two clutch baskets down the stretch, as did Keffer.

FRANCIS SCOTT KEY -- Matos 11, Stem 8, Keffer 4, Sheedy 4, Suter 4, Stambaugh 15, Gilmore 1. Totals 21 5-8 47.

MARDELA -- Akram 20, Sickmund 9, Finger 7, Wallace 3, Hayward 1. Totals 14 7-13 40. Half: FSK 21-18.

N.-Garrett 43, Rising Sun 23

Northern-Garrett used a two-three zone defense to frustrate Rising Sun and come away with a Class 1A state semifinal victory last night at UMBC.

The Huskies, winners of the West region and now 18-8 on the season, will make their first state final appearance when they take on Francis Scott Key.

Junior forward Brooke Brenneman led the Huskies with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Lea Stanton scored 11 points with Jill Speicher adding 10.

RISING SUN -- Lucas 6, Covert 2, Dugan 5, Coale 2, Mitchell 4, Price 4. Totals 11 1-12 23.

NORTHERN -- Speicher 10, McCarthy 2, Arnold 6, Brenneman 14, Stanton 11. Totals 17 7-14 43. Half: N 24-11.

Pub Date: 3/15/97

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