Catonsville's girls basketball team left no doubt last night that it's headed back to the Baltimore County championship game.
After barely slipping by Hereford in overtime three weeks ago, the No. 15 Comets turned last night's rematch into an 81-43 romp. They shot 53 percent from the field and used a 16-point run to take a 17-point lead in the first seven minutes.
With the victory, the host Comets (16-4, 12-0 division) clinch the top spot in the county's Division II for the fourth straight year as well as a trip to next week's county title game.
Had Hereford (16-4, 10-2) won the game - and its two remaining league contests - the Bulls would have been on their way to the county title game thanks to series of tiebreakers. But last night, after the Comets' initial spurt, the Bulls never got closer than 12 points.
"We know we can play a whole lot better than we did the last time," said Comets senior Dani Packer, of the 48-46 overtime win. "We just jelled together and Ashley [Liggett] was on fire."
Liggett, who finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds, scored five points in the run and fed Andrea Denton for another three points.
With several full-court passes, the junior forward helped the Comets beat the Bulls downcourt repeatedly on transition, often setting up open three pointers or barely-contested layups.
"Ashley throws the ball better than [Ravens quarterback Trent] Dilfer," said Comets coach Mike Mohler. "Three aren't many girls who can throw that deep pass and put it right on the money."
Outrunning the Bulls and getting open in the corners, the Comets built a 22-5 lead with a little more than a minute left in the first quarter.
The Bulls, who were slow to get back on defense, did not score a point for more than five minutes during that stretch. They didn't hit a field goal for almost 6 1/2 minutes.
"One of the problems with our team all year is that we don't shoot well," said Bulls coach Dave Schreiner, after his team shot its season average of 29 percent from the field. "We create turnovers and we do a lot of good things, but when you shoot 20-some percent and they're shooting 50-some percent and hitting a lot of threes, it makes it tough."
The Comets had three players other than Liggett hit double figures - Denton, with 14, and Packer and Maura Lentz, with 11 each. Becky Clipp had 10 assists and seven steals to go with five points.
Chrissy Rude led the Bulls with 19 points and Jessica Allen had 12.