Jaguars reach championship

Win avenges last year's state title loss

Southside 50 New Town 45

Girls basketball Class 1a

High Schools

March 11, 2006|By KATHERINE DUNN | KATHERINE DUNN,SUN REPORTER

When Southside coach Dafne Lee-Blakney saw her No. 10 Jaguars celebrating after last night's state semifinal victory over No. 7 New Town, she told them they had nothing to celebrate yet.

But it was hard for the Jaguars not to celebrate after avenging last year's state Class 1A title loss to New Town with a 50-45 victory at UMBC's RAC Arena.

Sheree Ledbetter and Tiffany Lewis combined for 33 points and Keirah Hicks held high-scoring Titans guard Peju Awodipe to seven points.

"There's no celebration yet, because I remember the last two years. We celebrated and you saw what happened," said Ledbetter, who had 19 points and 16 rebounds.

Each of the past two seasons, the Jaguars (21-2) won their semifinal game only to lose in the final. Although they assumed last year's title after New Town lost it for using geographically ineligible players, the Jaguars want to win it on the court. Their chance comes tonight at 6, when they face Catoctin, a 50-46 winner over Pocomoke in last night's late semifinal, for the Class 1A crown.

The Titans (23-4) never fell behind by more than seven points last night and not for long. Jira Williams made two terrific steals off Jaguars inbound passes under the Titans' basket and Courtney Ward and Awodipe hit back-to-back three pointers to pull the Titans within 44-43 with 2:28 to go.

While the Titans missed their next three shots, the Jaguars hit six of eight free throws, including four of four by Ledbetter, to seal the victory.

"We missed some layups and they made their shots. I really thought we had this one. I never thought we'd lose. They just stayed one step ahead of us," said New Town center Lindsey Wallace, who had10 points and six rebounds.

While the Jaguars got most of their offense from Ledbetter and Lewis, who had 14 points, they also got stellar performances from guards Hicks and Janaki Boston and 5-7 forward Dara Mobley.

Hicks shadowed Awodipe in the box-and-one defense, holding her well below her season average of 24 and well below the 21 points she scored in last season's title game.

Hicks also scored five points and Boston added two in a key seven-point run midway through the fourth quarter that boosted the Jaguars' lead to 44-37.

Mobley took some of the pressure off Ledbetter inside and contributed five points and four rebounds.

"The other kids really stepped up," Lee-Blakney said. " We told them, `Don't try to save yourself for tomorrow, because it's not promised. You have to leave it out on the court.' I got about 120 percent from each girl, from the starters to the bench players."

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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