Off-the-wall Southern-AA rallies, dumps Poly, 70-49 Coach's lecture motivates Dawgs to 2nd title in row

Girls basketball

March 07, 1998|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

You've heard the tired, old sports cliche, "We had our backs against the wall." Southern-Anne Arundel's team found out first-hand just what it means yesterday from their coach, Linda Kilpatrick, at Poly in Baltimore.

Down 31-29 after a lackluster first half, it was into the locker room, behind closed doors, to face Kilpatrick, who had smoke coming out her ears. To put it lightly, the Dawgs returned to the court inspired.

Final score: Southern 70, Poly 49.

The win meant back-to-back Class 2A East region titles for the Dawgs and the 11th in Kilpatrick's 21 years.

Southern (15-10) will return to the state final four at UMBC next week. Poly finished 15-10 after its first trip to a region final.

"She [Kilpatrick] made us back all the way up to the wall," said Southern's spark-plug senior guard, Tiffany Neal. "She said, 'You all might want to back up, because we're going to yell.' It worked, because we came out the second half ready to roll. And when we took the lead [34-33], they never got it back, and that's how we like to play."

Neal and 6-foot senior center Tameka Graves played as if possessed in the second half, and their teammates rallied around them. Neal scored seven of her 13 points and had a game-high 13 steals in the second half.

Graves dominated inside, scoring 19 of 25 points (13 in the last period) in the second half and grabbing 16 of her game-high 17 boards, 10 in the final period.

"I had a headache in the first half and had to wait for my medicine to kick in," said Graves, who was injured last season and missed that trip to UMBC.

Two other Southern seniors, Jessica Downes (11) and Dana Pugh (10), were in double figures. Junior Alicia Groveston, who injured her right ankle in Wednesday's 59-44 semifinal win over Dunbar, tossed in eight points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

Poly, which had seniors Shanne' Woodberry (19) and Akeya Vaughaun (16) in double digits, played well in the first half. The Engineers took a six-point (31-25) lead on a three by Woodberry and free throw from Vaughaun 1: 15 before halftime.

Neal answered with a three and a free throw of her own to cut it to 31-29, the lull before a storm.

"I was really upset when we got in the locker room," said Kilpatrick, whose Southern teams have won five state titles, the last in 1985. "Our press was a fast-break drill for the other team, and we have six seniors on the team who I expect to play up to it."

Southern's third-period pressure was simply too much for Poly as the Dawgs forced 13 turnovers to take a 50-42 lead into the last eight minutes. That lead swelled to 63-45 with 3: 25 left on four baskets by Graves.

Pub Date: 3/07/98

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