Stopping Brunswick center Jamie Cable from scoring was Glenelg's most important task in last night's Class 1A South Region semifinal.
The defending state champion Gladiators (16-8) were successful. Cable, who averages 20.4 points, was held to eight points, and No. 18-ranked Glenelg broke open a close game in the fourth quarter to win, 45-36. They'll play at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Smithsburg, a 49-47 winner over Oakland Mills, for the championship.
"We used a 2-3 zone defense, but it has variations," Glenelg coach Ciaran Lesikar said. "It's like an amoeba."
Wherever Cable went, a defender was sure to follow, as Glenelg tried to prevent her from getting the ball and force the Railroaders to shoot from the outside.
"Cable did everything for us all year, and she couldn't get into her game tonight," Brunswick coach Bill Martin said.
Brunswick (13-11) did find an outside shooter in the first half when Kim Whims scored 13 of her 15 points. Point guard Nicole Spence distributed the ball well and grabbed seven rebounds that half. But Glenelg still led 24-20 at halftime.
"We were intimidated at first because they are defending state champs," Spence said. "Then, in the second half we just weren't playing well as a team. We could have beaten them."
The Gladiators received an eight-point scoring outburst in the second quarter from Stephanie Howell, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, helping to trim Glenelg's lead to 32-30 after three quarters.
After shooting 3-for-14 in the third, Glenelg improved to 5-for-11 in the fourth period and played with more intensity in holding Brunswick to six points in the final eight minutes.
"I think we tired them out," Lesikar said.
Glenelg scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter on baskets by 5-foot-8 freshman center Alli Biggs (12 points) and Howell, and a three-pointer by junior point guard Heather Young, who had seven points, six rebounds and nine assists. Jenny Kurdziel finished with six points and seven rebounds.
"That team was good but our defense was strong," Young said.
Smithsburg 49, Oakland Mills 47: Melissa Roche's three-point basket with five seconds left cut Oakland Mills' deficit to 48-47, but the Scorpions (15-9) could come no closer.
Oakland Mills, trailing 31-25 at halftime, outscored their hosts 8-1 in the third quarter to take a 33-32 lead. Smithsburg made 11 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
"They hit their free throws down the stretch," said Oakland Mills coach Marcus Lewis.
Smithsburg made six fewer field goals then Oakland Mills, but attempted 13 more free throws and made nine more.
"The third quarter was the key," Lewis said. "We held them to one, but we missed a lot of shots from close in. We had a chance to make more of a run then we did."
Rayna DuBose led the Scorpions with 17 points, and Heather Romich added 11.