Senior Daija Fitchett scored 12 points and sophomore Anna Lucas scored 10 to lead the Towson girls to a 41-38 victory over host Franklin (14-8) in the Class 3A North Section I finals.
The win advances them to the Class 3A North Region finals at C. Milton Wright at 12 p.m. on Saturday, March 3.
The Generals (15-8) employed a triangle-and-two defense, not the conventional one.
Lucas and junior Bernadette Brezinski were not guarding two Indians. They were both smothering Franklin’s scoring sensation Dominique Doss all over the court.
Doss, who averages 25 per game, was held to eight points. Celina Polson also had eight for the Indians.
“She scored 28 on us last time against a box-and-one, she’s a good player, so we just had to shut her down,” said Towson coach Rebecca Cahall, whose squad lost to Franklin, 54-44, during the regular season.
Towson's last trip to the regional finals was in 2016 when they lost to Poly.
It was the second straight dramatic finish of the week for the Generals in the playoffs.
On Feb. 27 in the sectional semifinals, Towson scored 11 straight points in the final 2:50 of regulation to tie Lansdowne, 41-41, and the Generals won, 48-45, in overtime.
This time, the rally shoes were on the Indians sneakers and they came up three points short.
When Fitchett’s block at one end, led to her layup at the other, Towson led 40-31 with 3:09 left to play.
That’s when the Indians went on a 7-0 run that started with a three-pointer by Asia Dodson with 1:42 left.
Dodson’s layup with 38 seconds left trimmed the lead to 40-36.
Her steal and missed shot was rebounded by Doss, who converted the putback to make it 40-38 with 23 seconds remaining.
Franklin nearly got a steal by Ayana Booze, but she knocked the ball out of bounds.
An offensive foul was called on the Generals on the ensuing inbounds play and the Indians had the ball with a chance to tie under the basket.
But, Erin Steinberg, whose free throw with 2.1 seconds left in regulation had tied the Lansdowne game and sent it to overtime, made a steal under the basket and she was fouled with 10.6 left.
Towson was not in the bonus, so Franklin fouled again, before finally sending Brezinski to the line with 6.5 seconds to go.
She missed the front end of the one-and-one and Fitchett grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled.
She dropped in the first one for a 41-38 advantage and missed the second.
Franklin’s Doss got the rebound and was fouled, but the Indians weren’t in the bonus either.
The Indians did get one final desperation long shot from Booze at the buzzer that was off the mark.
Fitchett, who had three blocked shots in the final two minutes of the first half, had four rebounds, four points and a blocked shot in the fourth quarter and impressed her coach.
“I’m amazed by her, she gets in her own way, as all of my girls do, but then she does something amazing that she knows she does, it’s a snowball effect for her,” Cahall said.
Fitchett also had five points in the third quarter and helped the Generals take a 28-27 lead into the final quarter.
“No. 5 (Fitchett), I think we shut her down in the first half, but she started going backdoor on us and she started hitting,” Franklin coach Denikwa James said.
Rebecca Grim sunk a three-pointer off the bench in the quarter, but the blanket defense of Brezinski and Lucas, on Doss, and the hustle and tenacity of Fitchett, Steinberg and Audra Lucas was the difference.
“She (Doss) is their biggest threat,” Fitchett said. “We shifted the triangle all the time and we talked on defense.”
Towson had built a 16-10 first-half lead, on the strength of two three-pointers by Brezinski, but the Indians scored the final six points in 80 seconds to send the game to intermission tied at 16-16.
James lamented her team’s slow start.
“Sometimes we get off to a slow start and they want to take over when it is too late, and to me, it is never too late, you have time to pick it up,”
James said. “This team right here [Towson] seemed like they wanted it a little bit more.”
Cahall praised her team’s ability to stay together.
“It has to be together and it has to be on a string,” Cahall said. “I call it a machine. You’ve got to be on a string and you have to adjust.”
Even if that means using two players to guard one and leaving the other three to cover four.
Daija Fitchett 12, Anna Lucas 10, Erin Steinberg 8, Bernadette Brezinski 6, Rebecca Grim 3, Audra Lucas 2.
Dominique Doss 8, Celina Polson 8, Asia Dodson 7, Kelly Cerroll 6, Brittany Hatcher 6, Jessica Adedeji 2, Hannah Graetz 1.