Western rallies but can't catch Paint Branch, loses by 51-42

Class 3A girls basketball

High Schools

March 12, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Amy Dodd's three-point play with 28.9 seconds left sealed a 51-42 victory for Paint Branch and held off Western's late bid for the comeback in last night's state Class 3A girls basketball semifinals at UMBC's RAC Arena.

The No. 5 Doves (23-4), who trailed by 43-29 at one point, rallied to within 45-42 when Bethany Sloat fed Zhondria Benn for a layup with 1:25 to go. But the Montgomery County Panthers answered with a six-point finishing run.

Tonya Handy started the Panthers" final spurt with a follow shot before Dodd added a free throw and then her three-point play.

"We were way too late." said Western coach Donchez Graham. "We didn't manage the game too well. In stretches, we were playing too far away from them. We over-respected them. They"re a good team, but we allowed them to play their game."

The Panthers (25-1) will face two-time defending champ Gwynn Park, of Prince George's County, for the crown at 8 p.m. tomorrow at UMBC. The Yellow Jackets (25-2) defeated Charles County's Westlake, 56-38, in last night's other Class 3A semifinal.

After falling behind by 12 points at the outset, the Doves cut the Panthers" lead under eight points three times, but each time, they missed key opportunities to pull even. Early in the third quarter, the Doves pulled within 28-25 only to turn the ball over four times in the next four minutes.

That made it easier for the Panthers, who never trailed, to come away with the victory over the Doves, who were back in the state tournament after a two- year absence.

It also did not help the Doves to have top guard Ebony Dennis on the bench for much of the second quarter with two fouls. Dennis, who finished with 12 points, provided spark on offense and defense against the well-rounded Panthers.

Guard Ashley Alexander and 6-2 center Dodd gave the Panthers an exceptional inside-outside offense. Each finished with 18 points.

The Doves 6-0 sophomore Zhondria Benn, who also scored 12 points, complement Dennis, but the Doves did not go to her much early which helped the Panthers build their early lead.

W-Woods 9, Dennis 12, Benn 12, Cunningham 5, Hicks 2, Peace 2. Totals 17 5-10 42.

PB-Alexander 18, Jones 7, Dodd 18, Davis 2. Totals 19 3-6 45. Half: PB, 28-22.

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