Southern runs out of steam, loses to Wheaton Fatigue and injuries catch up to Bulldogs, 59-47

Girls 2A

March 16, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

With three minutes and 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter yesterday, an exhausted Southern-Anne Arundel team was trying desperately to muster enough strength to make one last run at a taller and quicker Wheaton team in the state championship game at UMBC.

A Southern fan tried to inspire the team by yelling loudly, "You have to want it."

But it didn't work for the Bulldogs, who were down by 10 points at the time and went on to lose, 59-47, to the Lesley Walker-led Wheaton Knights. It was the second girls state championship in the history of the Montgomery County school.

Walker, a junior guard, scored a game-high 20 points, had six assists, eight rebounds, five steals and made everything click for the Knights by penetrating the lane often to set up high-percentage shots.

For Southern, nothing could put energy back in the bodies of the players who had worn themselves out trying to overcome a Wheaton team (24-2) that just had too much talent on this day for Southern (14-11).

To make matters worse down the stretch, Southern's best player, Lindsey Lowman, was limping badly on a sprained ankle and two other standout players, Beth Smith and Alicia Groveston, had four fouls and couldn't play their usual aggressive defense out of a full-court press.

"We had nothing left in the barrel," said Southern coach Linda Kilpatrick. "Our championship game was yesterday [Friday, when unranked Southern defeated eighth-ranked Wilde Lake, 59-58, in an emotional overtime thriller]. David couldn't beat Goliath again. We needed to come back today and do the same thing we did against Wilde Lake.

"But our feet were a little more like cement today. They [Wheaton] had an easier time of it Friday in the semis [51-37 victory over Towson] and that helped them."

Kilpatrick said that Lowman was playing only "at about 80 percent" on the ankle she sprained a week ago in a Class 2A East Region win over South River.

"We kept re-taping the ankle throughout the game and it would be all right for a while but would cramp up again," said Kilpatrick.

"Our go-'til-you-drop full-court pressure defense takes a lot out of you after a while. We played six super quarters in two days and just couldn't keep it up mentally and physically for two more quarters."

Yesterday, Southern charged to a 30-23 lead with 1: 18 left in the first half but Wheaton answered with a 14-2 run for a 37-32 lead with 4: 06 left in the third quarter and held a 45-39 advantage at the end of the third period.

Lowman tried to pick her teammates up again with a jumper from the corner in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter that reduced the lead to 45-41.

But Wheaton's all-time leader in three-point shots, senior guard Kathy Miller, hit her fourth three-pointer of the day to run the Knights' lead to 48-41, and Walker followed with a steal that she turned into a layup and free throw for a 51-41 lead with a little more than five minutes remaining in the game.

Miller wound up with 15 points for Wheaton.

Lowman led Southern with 12 points, including a crowd-pleasing baseball-toss shot from beyond half-court for three points and a 14-11 lead as the buzzer sounded at the end of the first quarter.

Lowman was in tears as her career ended on a disappointing note, but said, "We at least got one win in the states. We weren't satisfied to just get here.

"I tried to keep everything today like it was Friday in hopes we would win. I sat in the same seat on the bus ride here and wore the same clothes but we didn't box out on the boards today and that gave them three and four shots at the basket."

Pub Date: 3/16/97

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