Century moves a win away from clinching title share

First-year team upends Owls behind Williard's 17

Girls basketball

January 31, 2003|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Century's girls basketball team put itself in an unusual position last night for a first-year team - moving one step from winning at least a part of the Carroll County championship.

Katlyn Williard scored a team-high 17 points as Century held off a furious late Westminster rally for a 43-40 victory over the host Owls. If the Knights win their final county game next Friday against Liberty, they'll gain at least a share of the championship - something Westminster would have done with a win in this game.

Westminster (10-6, 5-1) has two Carroll County games left and needs wins in both if Century (10-4, 5-1) beats Liberty to tie the Knights for the county crown. Century's only county loss came to Westminster earlier this season.

Century coach Joel Beard said his team was well aware of the problems Westminster has had in recent days - losing nine players from its varsity and replacing them with less experienced athletes - but thought the Knights would fare well in this game.

"We were ready to play," Beard said. "I could tell that in practice yesterday. We've got really competitive kids, and my kids play hard."

Williard led the way by making several clutch shots as Westminster rallied in the second half and cut a 15-point Century lead to two in the fourth quarter. But the Knights hung on.

"We're a new team, and no one thought we could do it," Williard said. "But everyone was working well together tonight, and we ran our plays nicely."

The Knights made six of their first nine shots from the field and raced to a 25-10 second-quarter lead. Westminster cut the lead to 25-17 at halftime before forward Emily Bollinger took over.

Bollinger went scoreless in the first half. But then, despite being double- and triple-teamed on almost every possession, she scored 19 of Westminster's 23 second-half points - including 17 straight - and single-handedly pulled the Owls back into the game.

"It just opened up in the second half," Bollinger said. "I needed to step up."

The Owls sliced the Century lead to 35-33 on a Bollinger put-back with 6:06 left. But Williard answered with a pair of jumpers in the following 45 seconds to make it 39-33.

The Knights hung on and stretched the lead to 43-36 on a Mandy Psenescka jumper with 1:43 left. A Bollinger layup and two Brianne Sims free throws made it 43-40 with 24.1 seconds left. Century twice missed the front end of one-and-ones and both teams traded turnovers before the Owls got the ball back with 4.8 seconds left.

But Westminster's Sims was short on a 45-foot shot with one second left.

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