Western falls short in semis

Slow start dooms Doves in 57-46 loss to Suitland

Class 4A girls basketball

March 09, 2001|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Western's girls basketball team has been notoriously slow getting started during the playoffs and it cost the No. 7 Doves in yesterday's state Class 4A semifinal game.

Suitland ran up a 10-point lead in the first five minutes and went on to take a 57-46 victory at UMBC. The Rams (21-0) will play for their third title in four years when they meet Churchill, which beat No. 1 Arundel, 70-61, in Saturday's 3 p.m. final at UMBC.

The Doves (18-4) managed to close the gap, tying the game early in the second quarter and hanging within five points with 3:15 left in the game, but the initial damage made all the difference.

"It's the same thing we've been saying for two weeks, since regionals started - starting in the third quarter's going to catch up with us," Western coach Dana Johnson said. "We had five people on the floor, but we didn't play. We decided to play in the third quarter and it caught up with us today.

The Doves struggled early against the Rams' 1-2-2 press, turning the ball over eight times in the first 5 1/2 minutes. That helped the Rams run up a 14-4 lead to open the game.

Western point guard Rolonda Brown said there was nothing special about the Rams' press.

"No one was looking at any of the holes in their defense," Brown said. "All we had to do was go straight to the middle and move in and out and I would have gotten it to the post."

When they finally did that, the Doves rallied behind two inside feeds to Lauren Brooks from Jeanell Hughes and a pull-up 12-footer from Lillian Drumgold. Drumgold, who finished with a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds, matched Jasmin Jones' free throw with 5:27 left in the first half to tie the game at 16, but the Doves soon fell behind for good.

Although they did not capitalize on a lot of the Doves' mistakes, the Rams still moved the ball quickly and dominated the boards 41-25 through the first three quarters. They ran their lead to 45-31 on LaToya Butler's basket with 1:26 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Brown hit a driving layup that set off an 8-0 Doves run and cut the lead to 51-46 with 3:15 left, but Rams guard Lakea Jones then nailed the game's only three-pointer to end Western's momentum.

"It hurts to lose, because I'm a competitive player," Hughes said. "It hurts because we could have done it this year, but I look forward to next year and I hope to be back here next year."

Hughes, a sophomore, was one of a handful of young Doves, whose development was critical to winning the Baltimore City and regional titles. After the game, Johnson tried to get the Doves to focus on their success through their disappointment.

"We have come a long way," Johnson said. "I told them they shouldn't hang their heads. No one expected us to be here. The way that we have grown in such a short time is what we should be proud of. The fact that we were here and we made it a game is what we should be proud of."

S-Lewis 7, L. Jones 7, Brown 12, J. Jones 16, Butler 4, Middleton 3, Riley 2, Allen 4, Mobley 2. Totals: 23 10-17 57.

W-Hughes 6, Drumgold 20, Chase 6, Brown 5, Burgess 2, Brooks 5, Bailey-El 2. Totals: 14 18-27 46. Half: S, 27-22.

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