Howard girls fall short against Frederick in Class 3A state semifinal

March 10, 2011|By Rich Scherr, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Howard spent the bulk of this season playing stifling defense.

So when the Lions quickly fell behind powerful Frederick in Thursday's Class 3A state semifinal, they were forced into a somewhat less-familiar game plan. Playing catch-up.

After falling behind by 12 points in the opening minutes, Howard spent the remainder of the game attempting to claw back before ultimately falling to the Cadets, 61-56, at UMBC.

"We just got off to a rough start. But after that, we gained our composure," Howard first-year coach Scott Robinson said. "Our game plan was just try to protect the ball, because we knew they were going to run and trap us all over. We knew we just had to whittle away gradually. … Then everytime we cut it down, they hit a big shot."

Frederick (21-4) advances to Saturday's Class 3A state final, where it will face Aberdeen, a winner over Largo earlier in the night. The Frederick County school has never appeared in a state final.

Howard (20-6), which had advanced to the states for the first time in 15 years, saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end. The Lions, who entered the night allowing an average of just 31.9 points per game, surrendered their highest point total under Robinson, who had guided Mount Hebron to a 2A title in 2008.

This time, however, it wasn't to be.

Howard struggled mightily to score from the opening tip, starting the game 0-for-7 from the field with 11 turnovers in the first 6 minutes. By the time Frederick's Rachel Johnson hit a pull-up jumper from the foul line, the Lions already trailed, 14-2.

They didn't make their first shot from the field until April Kuhn's put-back with 1:31 left in the first quarter.

"We came out knowing we had to play had," said Frederick's Lauren Tolson, who along with Johnson led the Cadets with 16 points "We proved that we wanted it more."

Howard, however, did slowly creep back into the game, taking advantage of Frederick's early foul trouble to frequently get to the line. Down by as many as 13, the Lions used an 8-2 run, capped by Alauna Jackson's turnaround jumper, to pull to within five near halftime.

Jackson, a 6-foot center, and reserve forward Bailey Benz each scored 13 points to lead the Lions.

The Lions again closed to within six on Jackson's put-back late in the third, before Lauren Tolson's 15-footer and Lynasia Frazier's acrobatic layup then extended the lead to double-digits.

Frazier's three-pointer with just over 3 minutes to play then extended the lead to 12, all but sealing Howard's fate.

"I think we just dug ourselves into a little hole at the beginning, and all the little stuff started to get to us, like all the fans," Benz said. "It's hard to bring yourself out of it, but I think we did a good job."

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