Second half proves Western's undoing

Largo turns up heat, leaves Doves behind

Largo 60 No. 5 Western 42

Class 3A girls

State basketball championships

March 11, 2007|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun reporter

Western learned enough from its Christmas tournament loss to Largo to hang with the Lions through the first half of last night's state Class 3A championship, but when Largo heated up in the second half, the No. 5 Doves could not keep pace.

Hitting seven of 10 shots in the third quarter, the Lions built a 13-point lead that sparked a 60-42 victory at UMBC's RAC Arena for their first state title since 1997.

The Lions (26-1), a Prince George's County team ranked No. 3 by The Washington Post, lost their only game to No. 1 St. Frances, 61-53, in the IAABO Christmas tournament. Last night, they sent nine seniors out in style, winning their 20th straight game.

The Baltimore City-champion Doves (23-5) had hoped to win their first crown since 1995, sticking to their game plan through the first half, outrebounding the Lions 29-20 and slowing Largo down on offense.

In a more up-tempo second Half, the Lions shot better and picked up their defense, smothering Western's top two offensive threats, Akeema Richards and Mischa Minor.

The guard pair combined for 21 points in the first three periods, but hit only one field goal in the fourth quarter. The Doves went more than four minutes into the fourth without scoring a point. By the time Minor fed Taqwisha Richardson with 3:58 to go, the Lions had a 50-33 lead.

"We out-rebounded them first half," said Western coach Tiffany Silver. "We limited their scoring, which was our goal, to not have it be a high-scoring game, just slow the ball down and make them run a half-court set. For some reason, we came out in the second half kind of erratic, but I attribute that to being young, being inconsistent. We've been that all year."

Richards, a sophomore, finished with 12 points, while Minor, a senior, had 11.

The Doves held Largo well below its 76-point average, but quick senior guards Brittany Hollins and Rachel Barnes combined for 40 points.

Western took an early 6-0 lead and did not trail in the half until Hollins' buzzer-beating 18-footer gave Largo a 22-20 edge.

But the Lions came out of the break and scored the first six points for a 28-22 lead. They extended the lead to 13 when Hollins hit a three-pointer and then three free throws for a 41-28 advantage with 2:14 left in the quarter.

"We tend to be a second-half team," said Hollins, who scored 23 points, "and when we went in for halftime, our coaches told us to pick up the intensity, box out and play straight-up defense and finish it up. It's important to all of our nine seniors that we go out on top."

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