BRANDYWINE - For much of the season, Severna Park has prided itself as being one of the fastest girls basketball teams in the Baltimore metro area.
The No. 16 Falcons learned the true meaning of speed last night as host Gwynn Park outsprinted them in a convincing 67-43 win in a Class 3A, East region semifinal in southern Prince George's County.
Four of the five Yellow Jackets starters posted double-digit totals in points to help Gwynn Park - a program that reached the Class 2A state semifinals in 1999 - advance to the regional final, where it will meet Douglass of Prince George's County, which beat No. 6 Mount Hebron.
The key was the Yellow Jackets' quickness as they registered 21 steals and harassed Severna Park, which had no double-digit scorers, into committing 28 turnovers.
"They're pretty fast," said Falcons junior point guard Jessica Norris, who scored a team-high nine points. "They can push it up the floor. The thing was, we didn't hustle back on defense."
Gwynn Park's speed - especially in setting up a full-court press after halftime - played a role in the Yellow Jackets embarking on a 9-0 run to start the third quarter and widen a four-point lead at halftime to a double-digit advantage that would never sink lower than 11.
"We were probably a hair quicker than they were," Gwynn Park coach Martin Vann said of Severna Park. "We took the tempo up a little bit. We started to press and make them come out of the tempo they wanted to play in."
No. 18 South River had some success against the Yellow Jackets by slowing the game down to a half-court pace before losing, 43-41, eight days ago.
Borrowing that philosophy, the Falcons (19-6) regrouped from a 7-0 deficit at the start of the game by dumping its transition game.
The strategy worked as forward Kristin Niland scored six points to ignite a 12-0 run over the final four minutes of the first quarter.
After both teams traded baskets to start the second quarter, Gwynn Park kicked off a 10-0 run. Senior guard Danielle Evans scored six points during that run to give Gwynn Park a 22-18 lead at halftime.
Evans paced the Yellow Jackets (22-2) with a game-high 25 points. She was joined by junior guard Crystal Johnson's 15 points, Maryland-bound center Charmaine Carr's 13, and sophomore forward Markeya Watson's 12.
For his part, Severna Park coach Bill Giblin said he was aware of the odds stacked against his team.
"We pretty much had to play a perfect game," Giblin said. "We try to outwork everybody, and for two-and-a-half quarters, we did that. It was just that third quarter where we had a few brain cramps."