That's just perfect

girls basketball state class 3a final

Fallston caps unbeaten season with championship

March 15, 2009|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

Defending champion Paint Branch warmed up for last night's Class 3A girls state basketball championship game in jerseys with "BK2BK" on the back, but that seemed a bit premature to Jess Harlee and her undefeated No. 11 Fallston team.

The Cougars used a big fourth-quarter surge and Harlee, who finished with 28 points, hit two clutch free throws with 3.3 seconds left as Fallston held off Paint Branch, 65-62, to finish 28-0 before a raucous crowd of about 3,500 last night at UMBC's RAC Arena.

"I always want to have the ball in my hands at the end of the game," said Harlee, a 6-foot junior forward. "I want to be in control of the end result. When I went up to the free-throw line, I just tried to remember this summer when I shot 100 free throws and made them. I had my whole school behind me and all my team. I just knew I could do it."

Harlee scored 19 points in the fourth quarter, including 10-for-12 from the free-throw line. She and freshman guard Rachel Holehouse (14 points) hit some big shots down the stretch, and the duo and Monica Fischer (14 points) hit 16 of 21 free throws in the fourth.

Free throws have been a huge factor for the Cougars in their final three games. They hit 24 of 33 last night and 83 of 103 in their final three games.

But Harlee was the deciding factor.

"She did a tremendous job," said Panthers coach Heather Podosek, whose post players got in early foul trouble and who had several key players with four fouls late in the game. "She took advantage when we went small and quick against her in the post. We were in foul trouble, and that really hurts when you can't go out there and really guard her because you're saddled with fouls."

The Panthers (24-3), ranked No. 3 by The Washington Post, led by seven with 40 seconds left in the third quarter, but the Cougars made their move from the start of the final quarter. They opened with an 18-2 run, taking a 48-44 lead on three free throws by Fischer. Then they ran the lead to 59-48 with 1:27 left before the Panthers cut it to 63-62 when Brene Moseley, who scored 28 points, hit two free throws with 4.6 seconds to go.

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