After Archbishop Spalding coach Deb Taylor centered her halftime pep talk on transition on both offense and defense, her players made their actions speak louder than her words.
The No. 1 Cavaliers outplayed No. 5 McDonogh at both ends of the court during a runaway quarter that sparked a 46-41 victory in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference girls basketball game in Severn.
The Cavaliers pulled away from a 27-24 halftime lead with a 14-2 run. Twelve straight points boosted their lead to 41-26 with 3:16 left in the third quarter.
The home team's speed and quickness forced two turnovers, pressured every shot and found all kinds of openings in the Eagles' man-to-man defense.
"Coming out after halftime, we didn't want any letup," said Spalding guard LaToya Strong, "because the first five minutes of the third quarter really determines who's going to have the momentum the whole second half."
The Eagles (10-4, 7-3 conference) had been on a torrid run before No. 2 Seton Keough finally cooled them down Friday night.
Until that 42-31 setback, McDonogh had rolled up nine straight wins, defeating five ranked teams including then-No. 1 St. Frances. The Eagles, unranked at the start of their streak, flew from No. 17 last week into the top five in The Sun's Top 20 poll.
After the Seton Keough loss, Eagles coach Jon Washington said his team had simply run out of gas. The tank was full again yesterday, but the Cavaliers (13-4, 8-1) got better mileage.
To open the second half, Strong fed Kylie Bestul for a layup, but Rachel Braver answered with a 15-footer before the Cavaliers took off.
The next eight Spalding points came on driving layups right down the middle - two from Strong and one each from Stacy Hunt and Bestul. Bestul then fed Lizzie Bayly off an offensive board and Maggie Rapp hit two free throws to run the lead to 41-26.
The Eagles answered with their own 14-2 run capped by Mary Beth Creed's three-pointer and three Camrell Gholston free throws to cut the lead to 43-40.
The momentum was stalled by two Bestul free throws, but Gholston hit another one to cut it to 45-41 with 43.6 seconds left.
On the inbounds pass, Strong eluded the foul for nearly 20 seconds, but the Eagles had just six team fouls, so the Cavaliers got the ball back.