Stopping Brunswick center Jamie Cable from scoring in its Class 1A South game was Glenelg's most important task last night.
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 either Oakland Mills or Smithsburg for the championship tomorrow night.
"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 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, Kim Whims, who scored 13 of her 15 points then. Brunswick point guard Nicole Spence distributed the ball well and grabbed seven rebounds in the first half. But Glenelg still led 24-20 at the break.
"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 second-quarter scoring outburst from Stephanie Howell, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Brunswick trimmed Glenelg's lead to trail 32-30 after three quarters. The Gladiators shot only 3-for-14 from the floor that period; Brunswick shot 4-for-10.
Glenelg's shooting improved to 5-for-11 in the fourth period, and Brunswick fell off to 3-for-15. And the Gladiators played with more intensity than Brunswick in the final eight minutes.
"I think we tired them out," Lesikar said.
Glenelg scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter on two-pointers by 5-foot-8 freshman center Alli Biggs (12 points) and Howell, and a three-pointer by junior point guard Heather Young, who scored seven points, had six rebounds and assisted nine times. Jenny Kurdziel had six points and seven rebounds.
"That team was good, but our defense was strong," Young said.
Class 2A South
Mount Hebron disposed of its second straight Prince George's County playoff opponent, but doing so a third time will be a much tougher challenge.
The seventh-ranked Vikings scored the first nine points of the game en route to a 60-36 victory over visiting Fairmont Heights, the third-seeded team in the region.
Mount Hebron, seeded second in the region, must travel tomorrow night to face top-seeded Gwynn Park, which downed visiting Hammond, 66-30, for berth in the state tournament.
Fairmont Heights (18-5) lost twice to Gwynn Park last month by scores of 72-52 and 65-59. Fairmont Heights coach Barbara Tyner said the championship will feature two different styles -- a Gwynn Park team that always runs vs. Mount Hebron's more deliberate attack.
"It should be a good game," Tyner said. "I don't know if Mount Hebron can run with them. Otherwise, they're evenly matched."
"Stopping their transition and rebounding well will be keys," said Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson, whose two first playoff wins have been at home. "They have two big players inside who are physical and quick. We really need a tightly officiated game."
And the Vikings (21-3) are going to have to avoid a slow start against Gwynn Park (22-2), winner of 15 straight.
"We're going to have to come out focused, ready to play, and not have a slow first quarter," said Lauren Kickham, a senior forward who led Mount Hebron with 16 points.
Kickham scored the first four points of the game, and eight in the first quarter to get the Vikings off to a 14-6 lead.