Parkville wins first county title since 1978

Rumbley-led Knights upset No. 3 Catonsville, 60-51

Girls basketball

High Schools

February 16, 2002|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

When Parkville's Missy Rumbley came off the bench in last night's Baltimore County girls basketball championship, the junior guard had one thing on her mind -- to fill in for injured senior Michelle Manella as well as she possibly could.

Rumbley, who is better known as a soccer player, hit two clutch baskets in the fourth quarter to all but assure the No. 18 Knights of a stunning 60-51 upset over defending champion and No. 3 Catonsville.

Two Andrea Denton free throws pulled the host Comets within 51-46 with 1:50 left, but Rumbley hit a follow shot off her miss and then converted a steal to give the Knights an insurmountable 55-46 lead with 1:23 left. Deshonda Barton, who scored 25, and Patrice Griffin, who had 20, finished off the game with a pair of free throws each.

The Knights' improbable run to the county title seemed as though it might fall apart when team captain Manella went down in obvious pain with a knee injury in the final 30 seconds of the first half.

"We really wanted to win this for Michelle," said Rumbley. "Me coming in and playing her position, I felt like I had to do it; I had to replace her."

Rumbley's shots -- her only points of the game -- and the offense of Barton and Griffin combined with a tough zone defense to earn the Knights (20-1) their first county championship since 1978. They hadn't even been to the title game since 1982.

The Knights got off to a slow start last night, falling behind 9-1, but they made up that ground and more, outhustling the Comets (18-4) to build a 32-21 lead by halftime.

When the two teams came back on the floor after the break, an ambulance had arrived to take Manella to the hospital, but, according to Parkville coach Allison Shinners, the pain was so great in Manella's right knee that paramedics needed to give her a pain killer and then make sure she was stabilized before moving her off the Knights bench. That resulted in a 30-minute delay.

But again, the Knights proved up to the challenge. They ran their lead to 36-23 before the Comets clawed back to tie at 43 on two Ashley Liggett free throws with 5:44 left in the game. Griffin answered by slashing in for two layups, and the Comets never again got closer than three.

The Comets, who have nailed as many as 17 three-pointers in a game, hit eight of them in the game, but three came in the first quarter before the Knights adjusted their zone to shut down the low corners.

"We started in a 3-2 defense," said junior guard Kim Vaughan. "With that we couldn't really get low to the corners for their threes, so we switched to 1-3-1 and played with pressure up top to make [Catonsville try] the lob passes and wait to intercept."

The Comets had been riding a 13-game winning streak, but they hadn't played a ranked team since their holiday tournament. They had cruised through their county Division II schedule, winning by an average of 31.4 points.

"With our schedule, we came in overconfident," said Denton, who scored 20. "We've been winning by 20 and 25 points. I think we overlooked them. You've got to give them credit. They played really well."

The Knights, who have won 10 in a row, proved themselves against the highest ranked team they have played all season.

"This is overwhelming," said Shinners. "This is not what we expected. We're coming off a 12-9 season last year and I've only got three seniors on the team, but our defense has carried us through."

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