McDonogh and Centennial ready for title rematch Two ranked teams cruise by foes in semifinal round

Holly N Hoops Tournament

December 27, 1997|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

McDonogh and Centennial rolled over their opponents last night to set up a rematch in the title game of the 12th annual Holly N Hoops Tournament.

Today's 4 p.m. championship at McDonogh features the second straight Holly N Hoops meeting between the teams. McDonogh won last year's semifinal by two points.

In last night's semifinals, No. 3-ranked McDonogh (8-1) cruised by Severna Park, 85-35, while No. 7 Centennial (6-1) beat Gov. Mifflin, from Reading, Pa., 53-27.

Centennial guard Michelle Kincaid knows her team, which boasts a stingy man-to-man defense, will have to meet the challenge if they plan to avenge last year's heart-breaker.

McDonogh, which scored its highest point total of the season last night, is averaging 66.4 points per game, led by 5-foot-7 All-Metro point guard Vicki Brick, who had 23 last night, and 6-foot center Shani Moore, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Neither played more than a half last night.

"A big thing is going to be boxing out Shani because she's an excellent jumper and she just jumps right over people," said Kincaid. "And on Vicki, we're just going to have to play tough man-to-man defense, because she can score driving or put up the outside shot."

Severna Park (1-5) learned that lesson the hard way last night as Brick, Moore and Co. ripped the Falcons' defense for 50 first-half points.

The Eagles jumped out to a 14-2 lead and pushed it to 48-14 on a 31-4 run from late in the first quarter through the first six minutes of the second quarter.

McDonogh's press gave the Falcons more than they could handle and they turned the ball over 14 times during that 31-4 run.

"They execute the defense very well," said Falcons coach Kevin McGrath. "They're a very good team and they've got seasoned kids."

The Falcons have a lot of players back from last year, too, but most played different roles on that team because there were eight seniors.

While the Falcons had some height at least to try to contend with Moore inside, they had no one who could counter Brick's quickness. She had 23 points in the first half and finished with 10 steals and six assists.

"We had to give up Brick's outside shot or give up the drive to the hoop, because she was too quick for us," said McGrath.

The Eagles also got terrific performances from 6-1 forward Natalie Brooks (15 points) and 5-7 guard Katie Nelson (11 points).

After last night's victory, the McDonogh players said they were aware of Centennial's plans for revenge.

"We don't think we played one of our best games last year," said Brick. "We're going to come out real strong and play tough in-your-face man-to-man defense and play good team basketball. know defense is their specialty, so we have to be ready."

Centennial has won seven straight games since opening the season with a loss to New York's Christ The King -- the team ranked No. 1 nationally by Street & Smith's.

Last night, the Howard County Eagles got 10 points each from guards Kincaid and Ashley Evans, but as usual their defense was the real difference -- even though two of their top defenders, Alexia Vogler and Stacie Tokasz, are missing the tournament to play in a soccer tournament in Miami.

"Our defensive intensity really put us ahead of the game," said Kincaid. "We got some easy baskets on transition and our defense helps settle our offense."

The Eagles settled down after falling back 7-2 early. They got a three-pointer from Kathleen O'Connor and an 18-footer from Kincaid to tie with 1: 42 left in the first quarter. Maggie Via fed Jessica Mentz for a buzzer beater and a 9-7 lead. They never trailed again.

Their man-to-man defense held off the Mustangs (4-5) in the second quarter, limiting them to just four shots in the first five minutes. Tia Richardson had a steal, Kincaid took a charge and the Eagles forced a 30-second violation that helped them run up a 16-8 lead, capped by Caitlyn Ryland's follow with 3: 02 left in the half.

They pushed the margin to 25-10 on back-to-back three-point plays by Richardson and Ryland to open the second half and continued to run, finishing the game with their biggest lead.

Pub Date: 12/27/97

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