While winning 22 games this season, Catonsville High relied on the consistency of its frenetic defense. But that defense had no answer for Paint Branch and its high-octane offense as the visiting Comets fell, 73-37, in the Class 4A North Region championship game Saturday night.
The Panthers (23-2) will play in the Class 4A state semifinals at Towson University’s SECU Arena against Eleanor Roosevelt at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Paint Branch’s backcourt trio of Dasia Harris (22 points), Kiara Colston (19) and Tyra Sinclair (15) combined for 56 points.
Harris, who will play at Drexel University next season, scored 15 of her points in the first half when the Panthers built a 39-16 lead.
The Panthers set the tone by stretching their man-to-man defense out to halfcourt and they kept the Comets halfcourt offense from getting into any flow.
The Comets missed 22 of their first 23 field goal attempts in the first half.
“Catonsville has a real good halfcourt offense and they run all those back screens, so we had to be real fundamentally sound against them because they are such a good offensive team,” Paint Branch coach Rochelle Coleman said. “We stressed defense in our pre-game and on the film and they came out and they executed.”
Breya Wallace and Jennifer Gast had the only field goals in the half for Catonsville, but the Comets scored 12 points from the free-throw line.
Harris, Colston and Sinclair all nailed three-pointers in the first quarter for the Panthers, who finished with 10 treys.
“I didn’t expect us to shoot like that tonight,” Coleman said. “That was nice.”
Harris, who will play at Drexel University next year, expected the hot hands from the outside.
“We were incredible,” she said. “We came in the gym early and we got right with it and we just started shooting.”
Going into the game, the Panthers had made 113 three-pointers.
“We got beat in every facet of the game,” Catonsville coach Mike Mohler said. “We had hoped we were prepared, but we just got beat by a far better team. We had to play a near perfect game and we didn’t.”
Catonsville was led by senior Taylor Barton, who finished with 15 points.
It was the final game for Barton, who was the first Comet to surpass 600 rebounds and 1,000 points in school history.
The four-year varsity player will play at Mary Washington College next year.
Senior Wallace will also graduate in the spring, but the Comets return 14 players from the championship game roster.
Junior Renee Gast had eight rebounds and four steals to go along with five points and junior Maya Wichhart had eight rebounds.
But they weren’t enough to offset the inside play of Autumn Ashe (11 rebounds) and Nicola Ekuba (5 blocked shots), who contested Comet drives at will.
“They just played together as a team and when we do that, we can do good things.” Coleman said.
The title was Paint Branch’s first regional crown since 2009, a year after they won a state championship.
“We had a good year,” Mohler said. ‘It doesn’t take away from the year we had."
Paint Branch 73
Daisa Harris, 22, Kiara Colston 19 Tyra Sinclair, 15, Jasmine White 7, Nicola Ekuban 4, Kaylyn Franch 2, Autumn Ashe, 2, Caitlin McBride 2.
Taylor Barton 15, Renee Gast 5, Lauren McDonald 4, Andrea McTaggart 3, Brey Wallace 3, Jennifer Gast 2, Maya Cooper 2, Maja Wichhart 1, Calli Silvestri 1, Belle Douglas 1.