Unbeaten Milford Mill (10-0) came to Catonsville High School Wednesday night averaging 76 points in its first nine victories. The Comets (9-2) held them to their lowest output of the season, 58 points — and lost.
The Millers proved they could play defense themselves and that’s what turned the momentum in their favor after they took a 22-19 lead into halftime.
The Comets committed six of their 23 turnovers in the first 90 seconds of the second half and the Millers built a 28-19 lead.
Dionna White keyed the defensive surge with three steals early that led to three straight uncontested layups.
“That was a big spark,” Milford Mill coach DeToiya McAliley said.
White scored a game-high 22 points and added 13 rebounds and nine steals.
Qierra Murray (nine points) added three steals and also created havoc for the Comets' attack.
“Whatever defensive mistake they may make, they will make it up because they are so quick,” Catonsville coach Mike Mohler said. “They just cover so much of the court because they are just so quick.”
The Comets proved they can be a force on defense as well, after they fell behind 16-7 after one quarter.
Using a triangle-and-two defense, they held the Millers to just one field goal on 15 attempts in the second quarter and pulled within three.
“Our defense worked well against them,” said senior Taylor Barton, who led the Comets with 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Jennifer Gast had six points and four rebounds in the second quarter and Maja Wichhart added three rebounds, two points and a steal in the period.
Catonsville missed seven of eight free throws in the first half and all eight of its three-point attempts.
“We were down three and we missed some foul shots and we missed some layups,” Mohler said. “We told them, ‘Guys, they are going to pick it up so we had better be ready because they are not going to sit back and let this continue.’ ”
He was right.
The Millers' defense took over in the second half and they outscored the Comets, 36-16.
Kelli Smoot (16 points) hit two three-pointers in the second half and the Miller connected on 10 of 13 free throws in the final 11 minutes.
“We just weren’t ready to handle when they were going to turn it up,” Mohler said.
Jennifer Gast made a 6-footer with three minutes left in the third period and that was the only basket the Comets made all night that wasn’t a layup.
Despite the 23-point margin of victory, McAliley knew her squad was in a battle.
“This was a test,” she said. “We haven’t really been tested since the private vs. public (tournament).” This was the first test since those games and we needed this to prepare us for the basketball Academy so this is and excellent way to get ready.”
Catonsville outrebounded Milford 40-33 and forced 15 turnovers.
Barton, who has 858 career points and 587 career rebounds, expects to see the Millers again.
“We will see them again,” Barton said. “We will see them in the county championship.”
The Baltimore County championship will be held at 5 p.m. on Feb. 25 at SECU Arena on the Towson University campus.
Milford Mill has won the past two county titles and Catonsville owns four county championships, including one in 2001 and three straight from 2008 through 2010.
Milford Mill 58
Dionna White 22, Kelli Smoot 16, Qierra Murray 9, Shamira Veney 5, Deja McKenzie 4, Akiri Lewis 2.
Taylor Barton 15, Jennifer Gast 8, Maja Wichhart 6, Andrea McTaggart 2, Lauren McDonald 2, Breya Wallace 2.