South Carroll shows spark in rolling past Key, 54-39

Spirited Cavs put defense to work

Axtell scores 14

Girls basketball

High Schools

January 09, 2004|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Following a series of listless performances by her team, South Carroll girls basketball coach Nicole Freeman reached into her pocket prior to last night's game against Francis Scott Key and pulled out some motivation.

Freeman used an ordinary quarter to illustrate how her players could either sit on their tails, or use their heads and play.

Host South Carroll choose the latter, playing what Freeman called its best overall game this season in a 54-39 win.

"It was me trying to find out how I can motivate them," said Freeman. "Everyone did their part. Everyone put forward 100 percent."

The Cavaliers (3-6 overall, 1-3 Carroll County, 1-1 Monocacy Valley Athletic League's Piedmont Conference) won it with defense, forcing 28 turnovers and holding the cold-shooting Eagles to just 22 percent from the field.

"We turned the ball over too many times and we missed a lot of shots," said Key coach Ed Williar. "It makes it awful tough to win when you do that."

That was particularly true to start the second half. Leading by two at the break, the Cavaliers opened the third quarter with nine straight points to extend their lead to 30-19. Guard Stephanie Scurci (10 points) had six during the stretch.

"We had to regroup," said Freeman. "After seeing what we did in the first and second quarters, we said, `OK, this is what we need to do.' "

Led by 6-foot center Melissa Axtell (game-high 14 points), South Carroll then held the lead the rest of the way. After withstanding a brief rally that cut the lead to five in the third quarter, the Cavaliers built a double-digit lead and held it for most of the fourth.

Stacey Malarkey led Francis Scott Key (2-6, 1-2, 0-2) with 10 points, with returning first-team all-county forward Jen Stambaugh adding nine.

Axtell said that slowing Stambaugh was a key for her team.

"She's really good at driving and putting the ball up, so that was our main idea," Axtell said.

For the Eagles, the performance was reminiscent of several in the recent past.

"We pretty consistently for the past few games have had single-digit quarters in scoring," said Williar. "It seems we can't get over the hump as far as scoring goes."

Axtell said that pre-game motivation definitely helped fire up the Cavaliers.

"Every other time we've been kind of down, but today we seemed really up," said Axtell, who admitted it's been an inconsistent season so far. "Sometimes we get frustrated when things don't go our way. When something happens, though, we just get more and more pumped up."

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