Middletown wears Southern-AA out Foul-hampered Bulldogs fade in final four minutes, yield fatal 10-point run

Class 2A girls basketball

March 14, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

By the time the final minutes of the fourth quarter came along in yesterday's Class 2A state semifinal, Southern-Anne Arundel had matched highly-touted Middletown point for point, despite a sluggish third quarter and plenty of foul trouble.

All the energy it took to stay close and the shortened bench eventually wore down the Bulldogs, and there will be no second straight trip to the state final as the Knights from Frederick County advanced with a 62-56 win.

Middletown will meet Towson for the Class 1A championship at 1 p.m. today at UMBC. The Generals advanced with a 69-56 win over Potomac-Prince George's County in yesterday's other semifinal.

As for the Bulldogs, who finished another solid season at 15-11, they left UMBC yesterday knowing they gave 16-1 Middletown a strong game.

In fact, a three-pointer from junior forward Alicia Groveston (16 points) with 4: 35 left to play gave the Bulldogs a 46-44 lead.

But the Knights went on a 10-0 run to provide the final answer. During the pivotal stretch, regulars Jessica Downes and Joanne Robinson both fouled out.

"We did a great job," said Southern coach Linda Kilpatrick. "I'm not blaming the officials, but we had two players foul out, and that was the difference.

"Without our rotation, Middletown wore us down a little. It came down to the last couple of minutes, and they had a little more push in their legs, got the key rebounds and some key baskets."

The referees called a close game throughout, which didn't bode well for two physical teams that like to press.

The Bulldogs had 10 team fouls in the first quarter alone. The Knights also lost one of their key performers, senior Anne Reiser (13 points), who got her fifth foul with 3: 44 left.

The game was just as tight.

The first half's biggest lead was at the end of the first quarter. Middletown forward Aryn McCumber (15 points) hit two free throws to give the Knights a 14-9 lead.

Strong play inside from senior center Tameka Graves (18 points, 14 rebounds) provided the Bulldogs with a 26-23 halftime lead. Despite 5-for-14 shooting from the field and four turnovers in the third quarter, they took a 46-44 lead midway through the fourth.

The rest of the game belonged to Middletown, with McCumber and senior forward Jessica Baker (13 points) accounting for the Knights' final 16 points.

"We've had several close games this season -- five or six -- and have made the big shots or big plays. It's nothing new for us," said Middletown coach Mark Miller.

Last season, the Bulldogs went to UMBC with a 13-10 record and knocked off then No. 8-ranked Wilde Lake in the semifinals before falling to Wheaton in the final. This season, they came up just short of another upset.

Dana Pugh added 10 points for the Bulldogs with teammate Tiffany Neal adding nine points and nine rebounds.

Middletown -- McCumber 15, Rieser 13, Baker 13, Frizzell 9, Felthousen 7, Shannon 5. Totals 23 14-25 62.

Southern-AA -- Graves 18, Groveston 16, Pugh 10, Neal 9, Raley 3. Totals 22 6-14 56. Half: S, 26-23.

Pub Date: 3/14/98

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