City avoids repeat defeat, advances to state title game

No. 12 Knights use size to bounce Parkside, 54-37

Class 2A girls basketball

High Schools

March 12, 2005|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

A year ago, City's girls basketball team struggled with nerves in its first trip to the state Class 2A final four, so coach George Petrides made sure his team played a tougher schedule this season, as well as a few games in bigger arenas.

That strategy paid off as the battle-tested No. 12 Knights dominated the boards and matched Parkside's running game en route to a 54-37 victory in a state Class 2A semifinal yesterday at UMBC's RAC Arena.

The Knights (20-7) will play for their first state title when they meet defending champion Potomac in the Class 2A final at 1 p.m. today at UMBC.

Senior center Ashley Branch said she and her teammates felt much more prepared for the big court and the crowd at UMBC this time around.

"Playing tougher teams and getting used to a bigger court helped a lot," said Branch, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds. "When you first come in [to RAC Arena] and you haven't been in a college gym, it's scary. There's a lot of noise, there's a lot of room, and it can intimidate you."

The Baltimore City champion Knights used a 16-8 edge in rebounding and 8-for-9 free-throw shooting in the first quarter to begin breaking away from the small but feisty Rams, who started no one taller than 5 feet 7.

By halftime, the Knights had run their lead to 10 points and a 13-2 run to open the second half all but put the game away.

The Rams (20-4) had hoped to outrun the Knights, but City proved up to the challenge.

"We knew they were running so we wanted to run them off the court," said Knights guard Madea Bailey, "and we wanted to look for Ashley because she's one of the biggest people."

Branch got a lot of help inside from 5-8 forward Ebony Smith, who scored 13 points and had 12 rebounds.

Parkside coach Warren White said his team suffered from the same jitters that plagued City last year. The Rams turned the ball over 27 times.

"Their height wasn't a surprise to us, because every team we played in the playoffs had a six-footer and some had two. We were nervous in the beginning and we just didn't take care of the ball," said White, who guided the Salisbury team to the 1999 title.

The Knights, who earned their first city and regional championships before falling in the state semifinal last season, want to add their third titles to this season as they prepare for Potomac.

"At the beginning of the season, we felt a little low, because we were losing to tough teams, but that just gave us confidence to be here at the end," said Bailey, one of seven Knights seniors.

P-Duffy 2, Whitworth 3, Jackson 13, Purnell 1, Dubose 4, Johnson 6, Covington 3, Lamboni 2. Totals 16 3-10 37.

C-Bailey 9, T.Smith 2, E.Smith 13, Burroughs 9, Matthews 11, Branch 10. Totals 19 14-19 54. Half: C, 27-17.

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