Catonsville High relied on offensive patience, full-court defensive pressure and a strong rebound effort in its 55-30 victory over Western Tech on Friday night.
The Comets (2-0) forced 29 turnovers in the first three quarters, thanks to strong defensive play from starters Deb Milani (6 steals), Rachel Schwaab (5 steals), Maddie Hunt and Kayla Gibson (4 steals each).
Schwaab (5 points, 6 rebounds) also did a solid defensive job on Western Tech's Ateh Ade (8 points, 14 rebounds, 4 steals).
"Rachel had a tremendous defensive game against a kid who is a very, very top notch player," Catonsville coach Mike Mohler said.
Hunt provided the offensive heroics with a game-high 17 points, including included three three-pointers.
"My teammates were making a lot of good passes and I seemed to be hitting them," said Hunt, who had 10 points in the first half when the Comets built a 27-13 lead.
"If we can hold every team to 13 points in the first half, I'll be really, really happy," said Mohler, who watched his team stretch the lead to 46-22 by the end of the third quarter, despite 10 turnovers in the first four minutes.
"I thought we got a little sloppy with our passing," Mohler said. "We go overly excited. We just have to learn that patience is okay."
They made up for it with solid rebounding as they finished with a 39 rebounds, compared to the Wolverines 40.
"I honestly thought the key to our game was the rebounding," Mohler said.
Taylor Barton finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Danielle Francy relieved her when she was in foul trouble and contributed six points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.
Heather Kendrick, Maya Wichert, Breya Wallis and Lauren McDonald added quality minutes off the bench along with six points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
"The added depth allows us to keep running kids in and out and keep them fresh," Mohler said.
Western Tech penetrated to the basket well all night and drew several fouls, but they struggled from the foul line (7-for-23).
"They were driving right by us," Mohler said. "They go to the basket well."
Ade led the Wolverines scoring, but Sydney Clopton added seven points and two steals and Tyshay Montgomery had six points, six steals and six rebounds.
Jayde Duncan (5 points, 7 rebounds) battled foul trouble, but played well underneath and Daija Coles added four points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.
But the Wolverines got behind early because of nine first-quarter turnovers and never threatened.
"We always start out in pressure and see how many easy ones we can get and I think that definitely helped out today," Hunt said. "We all stepped up and took charge in the press."
Despite the 25-point loss, coach Mohler thinks he could see Coach Nolan Roe's Wolverine squad much later in the season.
"If we continue to improve and do well and we are fortunate enough, we will see them in the county championship — no question about it."
Since 2001, Catonsville's girls have won four Baltimore County championships and they are competing in the Class 3A-4A Division which was won by Hereford last year.
Western Tech, who competes in Class 1A-2A, was in its first county championship last year and lost to Hereford.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun