Leading C. Milton Wright by 13 points at halftime last night in Bel Air, Severna Park coach Bill Giblin admonished his team not to let up against the Mustangs.
The Falcons apparently took his advice as they raced to a 62-32 rout in advancing to the final of the Class 4A East Region tournament.
"They [Wright] are scrappy kids," said Giblin. "I told them at halftime that they'll come back. They did it against Meade [in the quarterfinals]."
This time, however, the resilience that carried the Mustangs to the Harford County title and 15-game winning streak this season never appeared. The Falcons applied a height advantage and unrelenting defense to hold Wright to 14 points in the second half.
The Falcons' Kim Lawton led all scorers with 21 points and added some strong defensive play.
"We played well defensively tonight," said Lawton. "We try to focus on defense. As long as we play defense, our offense will come."
The Falcons forced nine turnovers in the first period to lead 14-8 at the end of the quarter. The Mustangs drew to within three points in the second period when senior guard Page Heath hit the only three-pointer of the game.
It was never close again, however, as the Falcons pulled away to a 31-18 halftime lead, with Lawton hitting 14 points in the first half. Severna Park outscored the Mustangs 19-5 in the third quarter and by as many as 33 in the fourth.
Normally a team with a strong transition game, the Mustangs did not score on a fast break until 1: 40 remained in the game.
"We tried to take them out of their game," said Giblin, a second-year coach whose team last year lost in the semifinals to Meade. "Natalie Hicks, Jessica Norris and Meg Miller really frustrated them."
The Falcons had 24 steals and blocked as many shots, holding the Mustangs to just 13 field goals. Wright, which had been averaging 63 points per game, fared no better at the free-throw line, hitting just five of 14 attempts.
Bernadette Colvin led the Mustangs with 16 points. Heath added 7, Lauren Cramer 4, Andrea Stephenson 3 and Erin Perdue 2.
The Falcons (19-5) advanced to the regional final tomorrow vs. No. 6 Arundel.
Class 4A North
No. 9 Western 61, Lake Clifton 33. Joy Gorham had 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks to lead the Doves past the Lakers in a regional semifinal at Poly. Tyecia Powell added 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for the Doves (18-6).
For the Lakers, Tyeasha Smith scored 21. The three-time defending champion Doves advance to meet Mervo for the title at 4 p.m. Friday at Poly.
Mervo 60, Northwestern 50: The Mustangs got 41 points from the Ashley sisters, Tobie and Erin, en route to their semifinal victory at Poly. Tobie, a senior, scored 20 and had 10 rebounds and Erin, a sophomore, scored 20 and had seven rebounds.
Northwestern's Latrice Gilbert scored a game-high 27 points but the Wildcats (13-6) sent the Mustangs (15-5) to the line 42 times. The Mustangs hit 18 free throws to make up for hitting one fewer basket than the Wildcats.
Class 4A East
No. 6 Arundel 88, No. 17 Glen Burnie 65: The Wildcats, who have reached the state tournament in three of the previous five seasons, winning it all in 1996, moved within one game of a fourth appearance by overwhelming the talented, but overmatched Gophers in Gambrills.
Arundel (22-2) will next play host to Severna Park at 7 p.m. tomorrow for the region title.
Arundel ran, with junior guard Jill Marano (23 points) leading the way. The Wildcats went inside, where junior Najmah Fauntleroy poured in 19 more while controlling the boards; and they defended, forcing 24 Glen Burnie turnovers.