Western slips past charging Fallston

Minor, Richards lift Doves into 3A final

No. 5 Western 45 No. 12 Fallston 44

Girls basketball

March 09, 2007|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Reporter

Western's Mischa Minor and Akeema Richards had been to the state tournament before, but they had never had to lead their team. Last night, they learned how to handle that pressure.

Minor, a senior, and Richards, a sophomore, struggled with their shots early in the game, but they made big plays in the second half to give the No. 5 Doves a 45-44 victory over No. 12 Fallston in a state Class 3A semifinal at UMBC's RAC Arena.

The two combined for 10 points as the Doves opened the second half with a 17-1 run. Then, when the relentless Cougars came back from a 13-point deficit to rally within a point, Minor hit a short jumper and Richards sealed the win with two free throws.

"I have the utmost confidence in them," Western coach Tiffany Silver said. "They are my coaches on the floor. I was never nervous about [Richards] shooting those free throws. Akeema's young and Mischa has never had a team on her shoulders, so it's a different situation. ... Now, they're the ones on the pedestal, being looked up to by 12 other girls."

The Doves (23-4) earned their second straight trip to the title game and will meet Largo (25-1), a 60-49 winner over Paint Branch yesterday, for the championship tomorrow at 8 p.m. at RAC Arena. Largo, ranked No. 3 by The Washington Post, suffered its only loss to No. 1 St. Frances in the IAABO Christmas Tournament.

Last night, Minor and Richards combined for 25 points and the Doves got an excellent game from junior guard Kiara Foreman with 10 points. They needed every bit of it.

Stellar freshman Jess Harlee led the fourth-quarter comeback for the Cougars (22-5), scoring seven points in a 13-1 run and taking a charge that led to Kim McDaniel's 18-footer that pulled Fallston within 43-40 with 2:20 left.

Richards hit the game-winning free throws with 28 seconds left to give the Doves a 45-42 lead. Fallston's Lindsay Howard then scored the last of her game-high 16 points with 14 seconds to go, bringing the Cougars back within a point.

With 6.6 seconds left, Richards missed another free throw. Harlee grabbed the rebound, raced down court and took a shot at the buzzer that rimmed out.

"This team showed a lot of heart and a lot of competitive drive," Fallston coach Vern Brown said, "and they worked hard to put themselves back into this game. They never gave up and I'm proud of them for that."

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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