South Carroll holds off Liberty

Fast start and finish help host Cavaliers score 42-38 victory

High Schools

Girls basketball

January 30, 2004|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Facing rival Liberty last night, the South Carroll girls basketball team sandwiched some of its best play of the season around some of its worst.

In the end, a torrid beginning and strong stretch run were enough to lift the host Cavaliers to a 42-38 win.

Paced by sisters Sam Scurci (10 points) and Stephanie Scurci (nine), as well as sophomore center Melissa Axtell, South Carroll jumped out to a 14-2 lead, then ended the game by outscoring Liberty 17-12 over the final 10 minutes.

In between, the Cavaliers were dominated, 18-4. For coach Nicole Freeman, however, this performance was anything but hollow.

"We've been off for a week [due to the weather] ... but tonight we just stuck to the basics," Freeman said. "We didn't get flustered, maintained our composure and took the time to settle ourselves and play as a team."

To Liberty coach Steve Dickinson, however, this was the story of the one that got away.

After rallying back from an early 13-point deficit to take the lead on Lauren Locklear's 12-footer off an inbounds play, the Lions went cold, making just two of 12 shots in the final nine minutes and failing to score a basket in the final five.

"We found a way to lose it. That's been our story lately," Dickinson said. "We dug ourselves a hole in the beginning, then came back and played a really good second and third quarter. But poor shooting in the fourth cost us."

South Carroll (4-9 overall, 2-3 in Carroll County) set the tone at the outset, holding the Lions (6-7, 2-2) to a single field goal in the first 8:30. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers gradually built their lead, using full-court pressure to create turnovers, then converting at the offensive end.

When Sam Scurci converted a pair of free throws 10 seconds into the second quarter, South Carroll had built its lead to 14-2.

"We were just playing intense in the beginning," said Stephanie Scurci. "We really wanted this one. It meant a lot to us."

Said Dickinson: "We were a little out of sync in the beginning, and I thought they were a little more aggressive. They got a nice home-floor start."

Soon after, however, Liberty began to climb back into it, using quick ball movement and tenacious half-court defense to completely swing the momentum. Led by Lauren Locklear (11 points) and Brittany Harman and Jessica Chiaramonte (nine each), the Lions outscored the Cavaliers 18-4 over an eight-minute stretch to take a 26-25 lead.

"The only thing that worried me was the girls getting down on themselves," said Freeman. "We just tried to keep the momentum and keep it positive."

And soon the Liberty rally would run out of gas.

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