Milford Mill presses past Bel Air by 76-57

`Off' Clark gets 27 points, returns Millers to UMBC

Girls 3A regional final

High School

March 04, 2000|By Mike Frainie | Mike Frainie,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

With 4: 32 left in the second quarter and her team leading Bel Air 19-16, Milford Mill coach Pam Wright didn't like something she saw and called timeout.

"I thought our zone press wasn't working, so I switched it to a man-to-man press," said Wright. "I wanted to see how we would respond."

She shouldn't have worried. Tenth-ranked Milford Mill (19-4) used defense to set up its offense, scoring 13 points in the next 72 seconds to blow open a tight game and defeat visiting Bel Air, 76-57, for the Class 3A North region championship last night.

The Millers advanced to the state semifinals for the second straight season and will play Charles County's Thomas Stone in Thursday's Class 3A state semifinals at UMBC.

"This one is real special," said Wright. "I feel like this is the best team I've ever coached, and this is my best chance to win it all."

The Millers were again led by Rutgers-bound senior Mandakova Clark, who scored 27 points even though she wasn't as sharp from the floor as she often is. Bel Air (19-6) was led by Jacque LaFleur's 22 points.

The Bobcats were able to play with the quicker, more athletic Millers early, but the man-to-man press seemed to confuse them. After Wright's timeout, Milford Mill went on a 22-5 run to end the first half and put the game away.

"I don't know whether it was the crowd, the band, or whatever, but we got a little intimidated," said LaFleur. "We didn't handle the ball well, and they took advantage of our mistakes."

The Bobcats cut the lead to 16 points at 55-39 with 1: 32 left in the third quarter, but that was as close as they got.

"We didn't attack enough in the first half, and that was the difference," said Bel Air coach Valerie Cooper. "We were so preoccupied with defense that we never got into our offense."

Wright said she saw a few things the Millers need to fine-tune for Thursday but thinks her team is ready.

"We did a few things wrong, and the next few days will give me an opportunity to correct those," said Wright. "We don't have an inside player, but I know we can win it all if we play as a team."

Clark thinks the Millers will do better than last season, when they fell at the hands of Prince George's County's DuVal for the state title.

"I think we have a better team than last year," said Clark. "We have more go-to players, and I guess tonight proved that we are not a one-person team."

Sophomore Shari Burgess (19 points) and junior Tamika Rogers (15) also scored in double figures for the Millers.

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