After missing its first nine three-point attempts, No. 4 Milford Mill found the long range late in the second quarter and pulled away from No. 9 Catonsville for a 55-43 victory to capture its third straight Baltimore County girls basketball championship.
Qierra Murray scored a game-high 23 points and Dionna White (16) and Kelli Smoot (10) also scored in double figures for the 22-1 MillersTuesday night at Towson University's SECU Arena.
White broke the three-point shooting drought when she hit a three-pointer with 55 seconds left in the first half to give the Millers a 27-26 lead at intermission.
White had nine points and three offensive rebounds in the second quarter, when the Millers rallied from a 16-11 first-quarter deficit.
Catonsville (20-3) built its lead after the Comets withstood eight straight points by the Millers to start the game.
Catonsville coach Mike Mohler called a timeout 70 seconds into the game and switched from a man-to-man zone to a 1-3-1 zone, triggering a 16-3 run by the Comets after the 8-0 deficit.
Taylor Barton (11 points, seven rebounds) had five points in the opening quarter, Lauren McDonald (10 points) hit a three-pointer and Maja Wichhart added four points, three rebounds and a blocked shot off the bench to spark the Comets in the opening quarter.
McDonald added another three-pointer in the second quarter, but it was White’s late first-half trey and aggressive rebounding by the Millers that changed the momentum.
They outrebounded the Comets 11-4 in the third quarter, including six offensive rebounds. White had six of her game-high 16 rebounds in the third period.
“White may only be 5-foot-8, but she rebounds like she is 6-2,” Mohler said.
“We have been doing a rebounding drill the past week called ‘bloody buckets’ and it's real physical,” said Murray, of the drill that was aimed to improve their offensive rebounding.
The second-chance rebounds led to eight points from Murray and seven from Smoot, and the Millers stretched the lead to 42-37 after three periods.
Milford stepped up the pressure in the fourth quarter and forced six Comet turnovers and held them to just seven field goal attempts.
The closest the Comets got in the fourth quarter was seven points when Wichhart converted a long inbounds pass from Renee Gast (13 points, six rebounds) to make it 50-43 with 3:00 left, but the Millers closed out the game by scoring the final five points.
“I texted them on the bus and said we are going for our first goal of the season, but we are going for our ultimate goal, which is the state championship, so we start today,” Milford Mill coach DeToiya McAliley said. “This team is a great team to coach”
Milford Mill 55
Qierra Murray 23, Dionna White 16, Kelli Smoot 10 Kri’Shea Thompson 4, Akiri Lewis 2.
Renee Gast 13, Taylor Barton 11, Lauren McDonald 6, Maja Wichhart 6, Jennifer Gast 5, Breya Wallace 2.