Westminster forward/center Emily Bollinger stood near her team's bench and tried to explain how it fell apart in the fourth quarter last night at South Carroll. The Owls couldn't find good shots, kept making turnovers and saw the game fall away from them.
"It was a lot to deal with [today]," Bollinger said quietly.
This was a long day for the Westminster girls. It began with coach Dick Ebersole's surprise resignation, and a few hours later, the Owls had to play South Carroll. Westminster hung in for a while but ran out of gas in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers pulled away for a 57-47 victory in a Carroll County game.
Westminster (11-7, 5-2 in county, 9-5 in Central Maryland Conference) was tied for first in the county with Century, but the Knights will clinch the title if they win tonight's scheduled game with Liberty. Century won when the teams met last week.
Ebersole gave Westminster principal John Seaman his resignation yesterday, 16 days after nine players on the team were suspended for the rest of the season for allegedly drinking or being in the presence of underage drinking at an off-campus party.
Reached at his home last night, Ebersole called his decision to quit difficult but one he felt was necessary for the good of the team.
"Trying to respond to questions about this while also coaching had become too much of a distraction," he said. "I didn't want it to distract the team."
Seaman came to the game at South Carroll to give the players support, but for long stretches, they appeared to be playing in a fog. The Owls again dressed just eight players, and to make matters worse, guard Brianne Sims, fighting a flu bug, had to sit out the second half.
"I want them to focus on basketball," said Seaman, formerly a long-time track and field coach at Francis Scott Key. "I think they'll win some more games."
Several Westminster parents who came to South Carroll didn't want to comment on the situation, and school administrators requested that players and coaches not be asked about it specifically.
Bollinger (12 points), Carmen Fajardo (14 points) and Natasha Morrison (10 points) are the only three players left from the original varsity team, and they've been carrying the squad since the changes. They did it again last night, combining for 36 of the team's 47 points.
Reather Miles, Morrison's mother, said she was sad to see Ebersole resign at this point of the season and wondered if angry Westminster parents were throwing all the blame on him.
"He was put in a very difficult position," Miles said. "Many Westminster parents don't want to accept blame. So they're looking to blame him."
Sue Conklin, JV coach and assistant varsity coach, is taking over for the rest of the season. Conklin, who has been head coach before, said she's optimistic about how the five new players are connecting with the three others.
"They didn't look it tonight, but I think they're in sync," Conklin said.
South Carroll (6-11, 3-5 in county, 4-8 in Central Maryland Conference) was clinging to a 44-43 lead early in the fourth quarter before scoring the next 11 points to break the game open. Michelle Middleton scored all six of her points in the period to spark the Cavaliers, whose win possibly dashed Westminster's hopes for at least a share of the county title.
Sun staff writer Jennifer McMenamin contributed to this article.