Catonsville forced 31 turnovers and fired 23 more shots from the floor, but still couldn't overcome the smothering defense of visiting Springbrook and were eliminated Monday night in the Class 4A North Region tournament, 38-30.
Foul trouble and dismal shooting also doomed the second-seeded Comets (18-5).
Springbrook made 19 of 30 free throws and shot 33 percent (9 of 27) from the floor.
Capree Garner (game-high 17 points) and Jasmin Dancy (11 points) converted seven free throws each for the Blue Devils.
The Comets were 22 percent (11 of 50) from the field and 11 percent (2-for-19) from the three-point line.
They only went to the foul line seven times and converted a pair.
Catonsville trailed by eight after the first period and were down 17-10 when they switched from a man-to-man to a 2-3 zone with 5:45 left in the second quarter.
Lauren McDonald's second three-pointer of the quarter cut the deficit to five and Rachel Schwaab's layup off a nice feed from Maddie Hunt (5 assists, 3 steals, 3 points), helped send the Comets into intermission trailing 21-17.
"I told the girls we were still in the ballgame and all we had to do was execute in the halfcourt," coach Mike Mohler said.
Every possession in the halfcourt was a struggle for the Comets, who lost inside threat Taylor Barton when she was charged with her fourth foul a minute into the quarter.
They fell behind 31-20 with 2:28 left in the third quarter, but rallied with the final four points off inbounds plays.
Hunt fed Schwaab (8 points, 6 rebounds) for a layup with 1:40 left and Schwaab hit Deb Milani (7 points), making it 31-24 with 42 seconds left in the quarter.
Barton returned in the fourth quarter and scored with 5:26 left, off another inbounds pass from Hunt, making it 31-26.
Meanwhile, feisty Comet defense held Springbrook scoreless for 7:14, from late in the third quarter until 3:14 left in the game.
Garner's free throw at that point made it 32-26, but Barton's follow shot at the 2:50 mark cut it to 32-28.
Barton fouled out on the next possession, but Schwaab answered a pair of free throws from Dancy with an off-balanced layin with 52 seconds left, cutting the margin to four, 34-30.
But Springbrook made four free throws and the Comets misfired on a pair of threes and were sent home early.
"Our key to this game was defense," Springbrook coach Tonya Banks said. "We had to put pressure on them because I hear they were really good shooters as they showed and they moved the ball really well as a team."
Mohler noted his team had a great week of practice, but ultimately the lack of competition almost two weeks may have left them rusty,
"We looked like a team that has been off for 12 days," Mohler said. "Maybe it's better to have that one game and keep playing."
The Comets had a first-round bye on Feb. 24, while Springbrook won a close game over Blake.
Despite the loss, the coach couldn't be overly disappointed with 18 victories.
"It was a great year," Mohler said. "I told the kids it was the most enjoyable season I've had in a long time. At the end of the day, only one team ends up happy. Unfortunately, this is the earliest we've ever gone out, but that's the way it goes."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun