Aberdeen falls short again in semifinals

Walkersville wins, 40-37, despite poor shooting

turnovers hurt Eagles

Class 2A girls basketball

High Schools

March 15, 2003|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

In the week leading up to yesterday's Class 2A girls basketball semifinal, Aberdeen coach Brandi Barnes talked about how much her team learned from its trip to last year's state tournament.

Then, a major case of stage fright was the prime cause of an 18-point loss to Hammond in the state semifinals. Yesterday, in the Eagles' return trip, Aberdeen didn't look nervous at all, but a slew of turnovers and missed opportunities were the culprits in a 40-37 loss to Walkersville at UMBC.

The Lions (23-1), from Frederick County, will be looking for their first state title and 20th straight win when they play DuVal today at 1 p.m.

Koffi Harrison scored 15 points and Chelsea Trout added 13, but the Lions did not have a field goal over the game's final 11 minutes. They did hit some foul shots down the stretch to turn aside gritty Aberdeen, which ended its season 13-13.

Walkersville won despite shooting just 22.8 percent from the field for the game, including 18.5 in the second half.

"We had it, but we just committed silly fouls down the stretch," said Eagles junior point guard Tameka McDonald, who scored a game-high 17 points. "It was a great game and I'm happy with how we played. We were calm and composed, but we just came up short."

McDonald's desperation shot at the buzzer caromed off the rim, but it wouldn't have mattered anyway. Trailing 40-37, the Eagles needed a three, and McDonald's feet were well inside the three-point line.

Despite 23 turnovers, the Eagles, who took a 26-24 lead early in the third quarter only to see the Lions engineer an 11-0 run to take a 35-26 lead, had numerous other chances.

After McDonald's free throw made the score 38-37 with 1:55 left, Aberdeen junior Rudi Johnson, who left the game two minutes earlier with a leg cramp, emerged from traffic with the ball and raced upcourt, but she couldn't convert a layup in traffic with about 35 seconds left. Johnson did finish with 13 points and 13 rebounds and was one of only four Eagles to score.

The Eagles were forced to foul and DJ Vernoy hit one of two free throws to give the Lions a 39-37 lead. On the next possession, Johnson got inside, but her shot rimmed out and Vernoy again went to the line and hit one of two to account for the final score.

"I think we watched the game happen a little," Vernoy said of her team's fourth-quarter problems. They scored only three points in the fourth quarter, all off Vernoy free throws. "Thank God, we had heart."

Barnes is not one for moral victories, but it was hard for her to be too disappointed. The Eagles won just two of their first eight games and even had to forfeit a game late in the season for not having enough available players.

"Last year, we were scared, but this year we came out very confident," Barnes said. "For us to be in this position was great. We lost some games this season to teams we shouldn't have. This season could have gone either way, but we responded positively."

W-Trout 13, Harrison 15, Lancaster 2, Vernoy 7, Tehan 3. Totals 14 13-22 40.

A-Johnson 13, McDonald 17, N. Russell 4, Bell 3. Totals 16 6-9 37. Half: W, 20-19.

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